Waging War

warriorWe have a hot tub as a part of our swimming pool, and when we sit in it as a family, my kids enjoy playing a game where someone thinks of a word, and the others compete to see who can come up with a song that includes that word. It’s amusing what I can pull out of the archives of my mind. Especially when they try to come up with obscure words. Recently, one of them challenged us with the word “warrior.” I know a song with that word in it, but for the life of me I couldn’t conjure the words or the tune in my head. It had been a long time since I’d heard it. I remembered the name of the artist, though, So when we finally went inside, I went to my computer and googled “Twila Paris, warrior.” The song, of course, popped right up: “The Warrior is a Child.”

“They don’t know that I go running home when I fall down. They don’t know who picks me up when no one is around. I drop my sword and cry for just awhile. ‘Cause deep inside this armor, the warrior is a child.”

The battle gets wearying, doesn’t it? We’re fighting for our marriages; we’re fighting for the minds of our children; we’re fighting for Truth. I’m just tired. I don’t want to monitor my boys’ internet activity. I don’t want to work with my daughter on how she responds to authority. I don’t want to write my congressman about making sure our rights as Americans are protected. It’s too hard. I’m too tired. But what happens if I don’t do these things? The results would be catastrophic.

Galatians 6:9 says “Let us not become weary in doing good, for at the proper time we will reap a harvest if we do not give up.”

Warriors don’t give up. “I am a conqueror and co-heir with Christ, so firm on His promise I’ll stand” to quote another battle song.

Twila Paris said it so well back in the day, so stand strong as you listen to her song. Hang in there, Warrior!

photo courtesy of pinimg.com

While You Were Sleeping

 Sleeping Morgan2I remember my kids’ baby days, when we were sleep deprived and wondering if this marvelous creature would ever sleep through the night. The first time they finally did, I remember waking up in a panic thinking “Are they all right?” I would listen carefully to the baby monitor beside my bed, trying to catch the sound of their breath. If nothing could be detected, I would creep silently to their room, ease open the door, sneak to the end of their crib and look carefully for the small movement of their chest.

Now, I fall asleep sometimes before my eldest gets home from work. Generally a light sleeper, I’m always surprised that I don’t hear him come in the house. When I wake up in the middle of the night and realize that he should have been home hours ago, that moment of panic again sets in. Sometimes, I get up, go to the garage door—which is closer than his bedroom door—just to make sure the car is there. Then I can go back to sleep.

There’s no reason the car should not be there, I tell myself. I just slept through his arrival.

There’s no reason that newborn baby shouldn’t be alive, she’s finally just big enough to not need a meal until full morning.

You know, God never panics. Psalm 121:3,4 says “He will not let your foot slip—he who watches over you will not slumber; indeed, he who watches over Israel will neither slumber nor sleep.” He is always watchful, He is ever wakeful, He never tires of holding us in the palm of His hand.

Eeny, Meeny, Miney, Moe

question-markSome people love to make decisions. It comes easily for them. I have one son who, when he had money in his pocket, wanted to go right away to the toy store so he could spend it on whatever he fancied. I have another who would walk the aisles, mulling, thinking, considering, and then walk out without anything because he couldn’t decide which thing he wanted.

That decision-making process only gets more difficult as time goes on, and the biggest is right around the corner: college.

My mind spins when I think about all the decisions coming up quickly for my eldest. And all the tasks: SAT, ACT, Air Force Academy application, senate nominations, college applications, ROTC scholarships, etc., etc., etc. It’s overwhelming. What if he doesn’t have a high enough GPA? How do I motivate him to study? How many times should he take the SAT? What if we do something wrong in the Academy application? Will that ruin his chances? And how in the world are we going to pay for college if he doesn’t get into the Academy or get a major scholarship?

“Therefore I tell you, do not worry about your life, what you will eat or drink; or about your body, what you will wear. Is not life more than food, and the body more than clothes? Look at the birds of the air; they do not sow or reap or store away in barns, and yet your heavenly Father feeds them. Are you not much more valuable than they? Can any one of you by worrying add a single hour to your life?” (Matt. 6:25-34).

Ahhhh. Isn’t that just like our Heavenly Father to comfort us with the equivalent of “I’ve got this.” The decisions still have to be made, and the tasks still have to be completed, but the weight is not on us. Do your part; trust God with the results. I don’t have to fear that my son won’t get into the Air Force Academy. If that’s the ultimate plan for him, he’ll get there—not by sitting and waiting for God to move, mind you, but by working diligently and trusting God.

It’s such a delicate balance: work and faith. You want to trust God for a job, but you can’t sit in your recliner waiting for bosses to come knocking. You want to know where God wants you to go to college, but an acceptance letter isn’t just going to magically appear in your mailbox.

I think what God wants is for us to walk closely with Him every day, to talk to Him about everything, and trust that He’s got our future under control. Do I know where the finances are going to come from to send my kids to the colleges of their choice? No. Not completely. But we started college funds for them, we encourage them to do their best in school, and we’ll apply for financial aid and every scholarship for which they qualify.

And we’ll leave the results to God.

“Noah” Drips With Gnosticism (a guest post)

 

My husband went with his team from work to see “Noah” last week. They wanted to form their own opinions of this movie and not rely on others. His team works with The JESUS Film Project, making the different language translations of Jesus, a biblically Jesus filmaccurate accounting of the life of Christ (read all about it here) The following is what he thought.

The “epic” new movie “Noah” drips with Gnosticism—not to be confused with Agnosticism, although there’s some of that in there, too. Both the protagonist and the antagonist yell at The Creator, “Why won’t you speak to me?” Don’t confuse their Creator with the One spoken of in the Bible either. In fact, other than the names of a few characters, a big boat, and lots of paired animals—this movie has nothing to do with your Grandma’s Sunday School lesson on the biblical Noah.

I admit, after seeing previews for this six months ago, I was hopeful that it would be refreshing to see a movie with great special effects on the flood story. That was until I heard the writer/director was an atheist. Then I was disappointedly thinking, “Great. Whose bright idea was that, distribute a film based WAY loosely, barely, on a biblical story made by an atheist?

Some have called this film boring, others incoherent: “The CG was lame, the acting was terrible, the script was worse.” And these aren’t Christians whining about it—they’re from reviewers on IMDB.

But I digress—back to Gnosticism. Down throughout man’s history, those who feel let down by the True God who really is, re-make him into someone He is not. The being this movie refers to as The Creator is none other than the demiurge of Gnosticism—the craftsman who fashioned matter into the world they knew. This demiurge, it was taught, is a capricious, distant, limited downright mean god-like being. (For a more thorough look at Gnosticism in “Noah”, see this article here.)

gnostic snakeThis is what saddened me most about this movie: It doesn’t give the true picture of who God really is. Like any other human, I’ve had my share of unmet expectations of God. And yet, I still know Him to be loving, wise, patient and powerful, infinitely so. It would have been so cool to have an epic movie tell of how God opened His heart in grace to us all, and wanted us to open our hearts to Him in faith. That’s how it really was in the Garden of Eden: God walked with Adam and Eve in the cool of the day. They enjoyed relationship with their heavenly Father. Yes, He is holy, and cannot overlook sin. That’s what the flood was really about. But the real Noah was a pre-type of Christ, who saw to it that sin’s penalty was paid and renewal is possible.

In addition to the bewildering characters nobody could like, all worshiping an evil deity, more Gnostic themes are prevalent throughout this disappointing movie: everything material is bad—only the spiritual is good; rainbows fashioned after the circular, monistic “One”; a snakeskin talisman used in blessing rituals.

Bottom-line Gnosticism: They choose to “know” a god who is different than and less than the benevolent, compassionate, unconditionally loving, True God. Why? Maybe so they can feel better for raging at him.

The movie was a big waste: of the money spent making and promoting it, of the money anyone would pay to sit through it, of my time enduring it. My friend, who fell asleep during it, said it was like a pot-LSD-induced screenplay. Paramount Pictures is even back pedaling by adding an “explanatory message” (read: disclaimer) to their marketing materials telling us “the biblical story of Noah can be found in Genesis.” (See that story from the L.A. Times.)Thanks, Paramount. That’s where anyone should go for biblical truth—the Bible!

Did you see the movie, “Noah”? Tell me what you thought.

 

No Perfect Parenting, part 2

Last week I mentioned a couple of articles on parenting that I had recently read. (See that post here). The author of the article on spoiling kids and I have agreed that everyone is entitled to their own decisions on how they parent. We also agreed that we can’t know everything about someone’s parenting style without knowing them personally and in depth so, with that in mind and with respect, here are some responses I have to some of the other things in her post:

I don’t think my kids learn to be generous because I give them things they haven’t earned, but because they see me giving to others who are in need. We support full-time missionaries as a family. We support friends who go on short-term mission trips. They’ve learned to set apart 10 percent of their allowance or work earnings every month and then choose a ministry they want to support with it. This summer, my boys are helping send a couple and a graduating high school senior from our church to Italy on a missions trip. They see me put dollars in the baseball helmet of the high-school team trying to raise money to purchase lights for their field. They see their father take a homeless man into a restaurant to buy him a meal. They see me buy gas for a woman who says her debit card was stolen and she needs to get to work.

Do I lavish affection on my kids? That was a lot easier to do when they were little. My teenage boys don’t really go for that so much anymore. But I hug them and tell them I love them often. Do I do things for them that they could do for themselves? Yes, on occasion. But I tell you what, my 11-year-old knows how to make her own bed, and her own meals, and do her own laundry.  If she needs clean clothes, she knows how to do it. But if I’m doing a load that needs more to be full, I’ll do hers with mine. And I help her fold stuff and put it away sometimes. None of my kids are going to leave my house without knowing how to keep something clean and keep themselves fed in a healthy manner (now, whether they pig out on Pop-Tarts once they’re on their own is a question for another day).

Do I make them the center of my universe? Absolutely not. They are an important, sweet, vital part of that universe. But Jesus is the center. And David comes next, no matter what. When they leave the nest, he’ll be the one staying here. And they know that. They complain every once in awhile that we always take each other’s side. Yep. Pretty much. But what they don’t know is that behind closed doors, we talk things out and occasionally win the other to another way of thinking. In our house, it’s usually about changing Dad’s mind about pets.

My kids are not allowed to speak unkindly to each other, they aren’t allowed to laugh if one of the others gets hurt. If they want something, they work for it. But that’s about stuff, that’s not about love. We don’t ever tell them they’re not good enough to get something. Yes, the harsh reality will come at them soon enough, but I’m certainly going to do my best to get them ready to face it while they’re still in the safety of my home. You break something that belongs to someone else? I still love you, but you’re paying to replace it. Or you receive grace from the owner, which I’ve seen happen more often than not. Not gonna happen in a store. You break it, you buy it. You didn’t win a game? You don’t get a trophy. I’ll tell you I love you and that I’m proud of your effort. But the winner gets the prize.

You want that new iPod? Better start looking for extra jobs to earn it. I’ll teach you how to do that, but I’m not doing it for you. The essentials I gladly provide as God gives us provision, but the extras are on you. God loves to lavish good things on His children, so ask Him to provide that which is the desire of your heart. Oftentimes, we find that our desires change as we seek to align them to God’s desires for us.

IMG_1112 - Version 2My bottom line is this: our children are very, very important. They are vulnerable, empty pots that will get filled with whatever comes along to fill them. Will it be Jesus or will it be the world? If I keep them filled up with the love and heart of Jesus, there won’t be room for anything else. I want to raise independent adults who know how to do things for themselves, and who rely on Jesus for every step they take.

How about you? In what ways do you help your kids be independent yet reliant on Jesus?

 

 

No Perfect Parenting, part 1

5-02-03There are millions of articles circulating around the blogosphere about parenting. When I type in that word, Bing search gives me 124,000,000 results. Google gives me 215,000,000. That’s a lot of advice. I’m sure some of it is very good. I’m not going to read them all to find out. But I did recently read two that I found to be almost diametrically opposed, and they’re both written by moms who say they love Jesus. What? You mean Christians don’t agree about something? Go figure.

Anyway, the one mom, from a blog called “What Kids Are Reading,” wrote an article she titled “Why I Spoil My Kids—No Apologies.”  She has determined that “it’s not what you teach your children to do for themselves, but what you teach them to do for others that will make them successful (and good) human beings.” I agree, to some extent. Helping kids to see that they are not the center of the universe is important, but frankly, I don’t see how they can do for others if they haven’t learned to do it for themselves. I’m not sure that Mom and Dad doing something for me translates to my doing something for someone else.

Here are the points this author makes in order to teach her kids to do for others. See what you think: I buy them things they have not earned; I do things for them they could do for themselves; I lavish affection on them; they are the center of my universe. (On this last one, she does add the caveat: “Next to God, that is. And my husband. Actually, alongside my husband.”)

OK, then. There’s another article, from a blog called “We Are That Family,” that I think I’m a little more closely inline with. It’s titled “9 Things We Should Get Rid of to Help Our Kids.” Here’s the list of 9, in case you don’t want to jump over there and read the article yet: guilt [our own, not what our kids might feel]; overspending; birthday party goody bag (mentality); making our day-week-month, our world about our kids; the desire to make our children happy (all the time); made up awards; fixing all their problems; stuff; unrealistic expectations.

What I seemed to glean from the first post was that our kids need to feel safe (absolutely), loved (without a doubt), and that they are the most important person on earth to me (wait, what?)

This is how I see it: our kids are a gift from God. We are to treasure, raise up and release those kids to the care and protection of their heavenly Father. The world is not a friendly place in many circumstances, and they need to be ready for that, not because we make our home an unfriendly place so they learn how to deal with it early, but because they have been loved well by their family and have seen Jesus shine out of every corner. Did Jesus always give everyone what they wanted? How many sick people did He pass by without healing them? Was it because He didn’t love them? We know that’s a ridiculous question. Of course He did. Why He didn’t heal some will remain a mystery. But we can always be assured of His love. Just like our kids should always be assured of ours.

Next time, I’ll explore some of what we do to help our kids learn the lessons we have for them.

This Little Light Of Mine

sunshine in darknessWe lose a lot of stuff around our house. My husband currently can’t find his ear buds. And for an audiophile who bought and returned approximately 13 pairs of earbuds before he found ones he likes, that’s a big deal. But they’ve gone missing for about 2 weeks now.

I can’t find my black sweater. I wear it all the time. But it disappeared about the same time the ear buds did. I probably left it somewhere, but I have no recollection of wearing it out and taking it off.

My eldest son recently lost a special coin that was given to him by the Chief Master Sergeant of his AFJROTC unit. Ended up it was in his book bag all along. That stomach dropping, heart squeezing panic while he couldn’t find it, though, were very real.

I’ve been saying for years that I want to find a bumper sticker that says, “Of all the things I’ve lost, I miss my mind the most.” That’s classic.

The other night, my daughter’s school had an evening celebration for all the families. Each class presented something that they’d been learning about in their all-school unit on missions. My daughter dressed in a traditional Kazakh outfit loaned to her by a friend of mine who had been to the country. To accessorize, she wore a little blue-beaded stretchy bracelet. As I was chatting with friends out on the patio afterward, enjoying food from different nations, Morgan came up to me in a panic, wanting to borrow my phone. Not to make a call, mind you, but to use the flashlight feature.

In a little while it was time to leave, my phone battery had died, and Morgan was still upset. Playing by the playground, somehow she had lost that bracelet when someone had attempted to grab her and gotten ahold of the bracelet instead. She was heart broken that it was lost. This little bracelet wasn’t worth anything to anyone but Morgan. That night, finding that bracelet was her sole focus. But it was very dark and a little iPhone flashlight wasn’t doing the trick. She went home without it.

The next day, on another errand at the church building where our school meets, I remembered about the bracelet. Knowing it would be a lot easier to look in the bright light of a sunny morning, I went around back and started my search. Within a few minutes, I found the lost treasure. And Morgan was grateful. In order to find Morgan’s little bracelet in the expanse of the church playground, I needed a greater light; the light of the sun.

As we learned throughout the last couple of weeks in school, spiritual darkness veils much of the world, including, increasingly, North America. Unless the Light of the World shines into that darkness, that which is lost will not be found. He’s a much brighter light than anything we can bring on our own. Will you help push back that darkness by bringing His light into the dark places?

The people walking in darkness
have seen a great light;
on those living in the land of deep darkness
a light has dawned.

photo from dadsprimalscream.wordpress.com