We have been very busy! God has been incredibly kind and merciful to us in so many ways. The children and I have been memorizing Psalm 103, and it has helped me to hold on to God’s promises in the midst of some things my heart is aching for.
Libby is quite the typer. She actually typed everything you are about to read. I literally had no time to type, so it was good to delegate. I hope that with time, her writing becomes more and more insightful, but this was amazing as a record of our activities! I literally just had to add some comas here and there, and delete others. But wow, I’m glad she has been taking her typing lessons online becasue she was fast! LOL!
Last week we went to the beach in Panama City, Florida. We stopped at a restaurant for breakfast and for lunch. I don’t remember if we ate dinner at the hotel or at another restaurant. We got to our hotel around 6:00 pm. and started unpacking.
Our room had two TV’s, one bed, one bunkbed, one bathroom, and one closet. After unpacking, we went down to the beach and watched the sunset. It was beautiful. We took a few photos too. Then we went back to our hotel and slept.
In the morning, we ate breakfast at the hotel and went to the beach at around 10:00 am. All of us were ready with our swimsuits, including Danny. He loved the water! At first he just sat there, letting the water gently brush his toes. Then he actually crawled into the ocean. We had to go get him because he had started crawling farther than was safe for him. He really wants to start walking. If you grab him by the wrists, he instantly stands up and starts walking away. And he goes so fast that he always stands on his tippy-toes. Mommy walked with him from the sand all the way to the ocean until the water was at Danny’s chest. Danny loved it. He kept picking up sand and seeing it fall though his fingers. Somehow he knew not to eat it.
There were a lot of fishes. I had goggles to go underwater. I tried catching some with my hands. They are seriously more afraid of the waves than of you. They try to touch your feet, and there were tons of them. If you tried to catch them, they would swim away a few feet and then come back five seconds later. I tried kicking up sand while I was underwater, but they just swam through it, even more curious. When they were going through it, I tried to catch them because they probably couldn’t see that well. I touched half a fish, but it got away.
After the beach, we went to our hotel pool. Most pools usually feel cold at the beginning but then it feels better. This pool was cold even after you got in. There was a hot tub next to the pool. When I got in, it felt burning, but you got used to it. Daddy got in too. Enzo touched the water and instantly jumped back in the pool. Daddy’s watch showed that the hot tub was 100F. In the pool, there was a lazy river that went from right to left in a loop. The current was really strong. Even with my mermaid tail, I could not swim against the current. I just stayed in one place and got more and more tired. Danny was tired from the beach, so he fell asleep on daddy’s chest.
After the pool we had some pizza. Danny had one whole slice of pizza to himself. We went back to our room and all took showers. Enzo and I watched some TV, and soon after that we had some dinner at a restaurant really close to our hotel. Then Daddy took us to play mini golf. It was very fun. He was first place, Mommy was second, Enzo was third, and, of course, I was last. Then we went to our room and went to bed.
The next morning Mommy and Daddy went to exercise and we went with them. After they were done, we went back to the hotel and had breakfast, then went to the beach and pool again. Then we went back to our room, took showers again, ate dinner, then went to sleep. In the morning, Mommy and Daddy went to exercise again, but this time, they left us at the hotel, and we watched TV until they came back. After they returned, we ate breakfast, and first we went to the pool. Danny floated a little in his float, but he was shivering, so he had to get out. Mommy and I decided to go to the beach. There were a lot of jellyfish in the water, so we did not swim. There were also twenty dead jellyfish on the shore! After the beach, we did not take showers but we started packing.
After we finished packing, we went to a surprise Daddy had planned for us. When we got there, we found out it was an amusement park! It was small, which was good because, if we wanted to, we could ride everything. We rode on bumper cars, bumper boats, and we went to a fun house. We also rode on a rollercoaster. It was small, but it was a real rollercoaster. Real turns and loops. The feeling in my stomach was awful.
Then there was something that looked like a ginormous carousel, but it was a little bit tilted and there were cars. And they were all connected to the top and they spun super fast. The cars didn’t touch the ground, the machine just pulled them. Enzo and I went on it, and it felt almost the same as the rollercoaster. It went so fast! It lasted a few minutes with the cars going forward. Then it slowed down and finally stopped. Then, just as I thought someone was going to get us off, it started going again. This time, backwards. I think going backwards was a little better, but not much.
Then we went on something like a tilted ferris wheel, But it went faster. There were no seatbelts, so you had to hold on really tight. When you went up, your seat turned. It can turn all the way around and keep going, so when we went up, we flipped over. It was scary, but soon it was over. There was also a black-light mini golf. It was very fun.
We went back to our hotel two or three hours later. We all went to sleep, ate breakfast the next morning, and we left to our new hotel. We got there in the evening, and unpacked quickly. We ate dinner, and went to sleep again. In the morning, we ate breakfast at our new hotel. It was really good. Then we went to G3 from 9:00 – 5:30. Then we did that again the next day.
There was a huge aquarium right next to our hotel, and Daddy bought us tickets! First we saw the sharks. There was a tiger shark. Then there were the hammerhead sharks. After the sharks, we saw big stingrays, fish, sea turtles, and two huge whale sharks! Then we saw a show with dolphins and after that, a show with sea lions.
We also saw otters, penguins, puffins, sea dragons (which look like sea horses, but they actually have wings), crocodiles, jellyfish, a 4-D show about an octopus, and beluga whales. There were three beluga whales in one tank and two seals in the same tank. I don’t know what the seals were doing in the same tank as the beluga whales, because most animals had separate tanks.
There was also a petting zoo where we could pet stingrays. Their barbs had been taken off so that they could not sting us. They were very calm. They felt so soft and squishy! I think that was everything. The aquarium was awesome.
Then we packed our things again on Saturday and drove home. We arrived late in the night. We went to church on Sunday and unpacked when we came home.
I loved our vacation. We had so much fun and went so many places.
I have been learning about trials, and how they relate to the Lord’s discipline. I know God is using trials in my life as of late. The following text comes from the book of Hebrews 12:3-12.
3 Consider Him who endured from sinners such hostility against himself, so that you may not grow weary or fainthearted.
4 In your struggle against sin you have not yet resisted to the point of shedding your blood.
5 And have you forgotten the exhortation that addresses you as sons?
“My son, do not regard lightly the discipline of the Lord, nor be weary when reproved by Him.
6 For the Lord disciplines the one He loves, and chastises every son whom He receives.”
7 It is for discipline that you have to endure. God is treating you as sons. For what son is there whom his father does not discipline?
8 If you are left without discipline, in which all have participated, then you are illegitimate children and not sons.
9 Besides this, we have had earthly fathers who disciplined us and we respected them. Shall we not much more be subject to the Father of spirits and live?
10 For they disciplined us for a short time as it seemed best to them, but He disciplines us for our good, that we may share his holiness.
11 For the moment all discipline seems painful rather than pleasant, but later it yields the peaceful fruit of righteousness to those who have been trained by it.
12 Therefore lift your drooping hands and strengthen your weak knees,
13 and make straight paths for your feet, so that what is lame may not be put out of joint but rather be healed
I hope that by the end of this post, you might see how God uses His hand of discipline in motherhood. Of course, as in all my writing, I am talking to myself here. I need to process my thoughts.
Personally, I always thought of this section in the book of Hebrews as talking about the trials and persecutions that come from living the Christian life, and that is certainly the context in this epistle. These believers are facing intense persecution, and some are not even willing to gather with the church anymore (Hebrews 10:25).
I guess I had always associated the word discipline as something negative, as something that yes, you have to endure, as verse 7 says.
7 It is for discipline that you have to endure. God is treating you as sons. For what son is there whom his father does not discipline?
The Lord loves you, and He is your Father, therefore He will discipline you – like a spiritual spanking of sorts – to grow you in holiness. That is also what verse 10 says.
10 For they disciplined us for a short time as it seemed best to them, but He disciplines us for our good, that we may share his holiness.
God does this because we ARE legitimate children, and He is treating us as sons. So in my head, I think I thought, “You may not like the discipline, but it is good for you, so… you are gonna have to suck it up, Buttercup.”
But I was wrong in considering discipline as only trials and persecutions, and bad providences. Particularly bad providences. I saw those as the Lord getting even with me. You know, I KNOW God’s wrath has been spent on Christ on my behalf, but I mean, what if the Lord considered it wise to bring some suffering my way in order to make me holy? Or what if I actually sinned in such way that the Lord chastised me with bad providences in order to get my attention? That is not at all unbiblical. It happened in the life of David as a result of his adultery with Bathsheba. Their first baby died as a direct consequence of their sin.
Maybe I did do something wrong or thought some things about the Lord that I shouldn’t have, and therefore I am experiencing what I am experiencing as a result. Honestly, though, if the Lord got even with me for every moment I don’t worship Him or think highly enough of Him as He truly deservers, I would be dead. Like DEAD.
The trials in my life lately have taught me to trust the Lord completely. I have put down the guard that unconsciously had developed in my heart. I know God does not afflict me from His heart (Lamentations 3: 33). He does bring suffering directly and indirectly – I can see that clearly in the Scriptures – but it is never as revenge or to get even. He brings suffering into my life because He loves me. He cares for me. And to the world of unbelievers, that makes no sense at ALL.
And I also think some believers recoil at the idea of a God who from all eternity decreed everything that occurs, without reference to anything outside himself; that He did this by the perfectly wise and holy counsel of his own will, freely and unchangeably, and yet God did this in such a way that He is neither the author of sin nor has fellowship with any in their sin – THAT GOD is almost a monster in their minds. But I cannot see it any other way. It would be terrifying to have it any other way. I know that God declares the end from the beginning, and that He accomplishes His purpose – even in my pain (Isaiah 46:10).
Job knew this. He knew the LORD gave, and the LORD took it away. He still blessed the LORD (Job 1:21). Job knew he was receiving evil – really bad life circumstances – from the LORD (Job 2:10, 42:11). I could say the same about Joseph, all his sufferings had a purpose. Some of the sweetest and most humble and gracious people that I know – that I aspire to be like – have suffered a great deal. Ever since I was pregnant with Danny, it’s like I was on alert. I was thinking, “When will it be my turn to experience some suffering?” I have never suffered for my faith, and God has been so good to me, that you know, I was like, “What are you going to do next, Lord? Are you going to take this baby away? Are you going to take my husband away? Are you going to allow cancer to invade my body? What are you going to do? I need suffering, and it’s like I know it might come sooner or later…”
Elizabeth Elliot is so gracious, I think, in her definition of suffering. She defines it as having what you don’t want or wanting what you don’t have. I call it gracious because in my opinion it allows for a lot of first world problems. She experienced my worst fear times three – she lost three husbands. So when I read her book, Suffering Is Never For Nothing, I think I have never really suffered. But Elizabeth herself says she had not suffered like others had. She once knew a mother whose four year-old had spina bifida, and some tests revealed that the child that she was pregnant with would also have spina bifida. Nancy Guthrie lost her six month-old daughter due to a metabolic disorder. Her husband got a vasectomy, but the procedure reversed itself, and their second son also died when he was six months old due to the same metabolic disorder.
I can’t imagine having to bury two children one after another. I can’t imagine burying my husband. But I also suffer. My suffering might look different than theirs, but it is the suffering that God ordained for my life. And I am not confused. God is good. It just hurts, and it is okay that it hurts. There are situations in my life that I would have never chosen to go through, but it is precisely those that God is using for my ultimate blessing.
Regardless of the many reasons for my suffering, I think this has helped me realize that God is close to the broken-hearted. Just as God ordained the death of Lazarus for the glory of God (John 11:4), Jesus also was deeply moved and greatly troubled. He suffered with them (John 11:33). God can bring suffering directly and suffer with you. It is not either/or, it is both/and.
In my sadness I have discovered a new face of God that I had never seen, and it is a sweet face. I have not blamed Him or get angry with Him, if anything I am angry at sin, and death. Death should not be part of this world, but somehow it is. Sin has destroyed everything, and I find myself longing for heaven in ways that I had never done before.
I think that was a long background for what I was trying to say: suffering is not necessarily always a direct result of wrong-doing. And I think I always associated the word discipline with bad consequences. But my pastor taught me the other day that discipline, really, involves the whole act of training up a child in the ways of the Lord.
Discipline involves the rearing of a child, the training up, the instruction, the rebuke, and yes, the chastisement. In a word, discipline is the proper instruction that trains someone to reach full development – full maturity. It involves much of what we think for the purpose of education.
That’s what we do with our little ones, right? We spank them, but not only that. We correct them, we encourage them, we love them, we educate them in the Lord- because we want them to be spiritually mature. So with this in mind, I want to encourage you today, and again, I’m talking to myself here… Where is God putting His finger in your life today?
You may not have children yet, or maybe you are en empty-nester. You may have never had children, but if you are God’s child, He is disciplining you. He is always training you.
Behind every tear we have shed for our little ones when we see them in pain,
Or behind every prayer that we have prayed so that the Lord will bring them to Himself,
Or behind the sleepless nights when they are sick at the hospital,
Or behind the infertility or the many miscarriages,
Behind the exhaustion of potty training, or changing the diaper for the 20th time a day,
Or behind our children’s disrespect, or their sinful choices as adults…
Behind all that, God is training us to achieve full maturity as His children. He is training us through our present circumstances -whatever they might be – to fully become what He wants us to be. And what is that exactly? What does God want to achieve in us?
Ephesians 1:4 says He chose us in Christ before the foundation of the world that we should be holy and blameless before him. That’s exactly what Hebrews 12:10 says, He disciplines us for our good, that we may share his holiness.
Romans 8: 28-29 says He works all things for the good of those who – what? Those who love Him – for those who have been called according to His purpose. And those whom He foreknew, He also predestined to be conformed to – what? To the image of His Son. He is making us more and more like Christ. Becoming like Christ involves going through the Lord’s discipline.
Now, I don’t know all the details of your life, there are great joys in motherhood. Nursing, your baby giggling for the first time, your child walking, or your children actually playing with one another. Sometimes we take those for granted, don’t we? I know I do. So enjoy those great moments. Cherish them and praise the Lord every morning for them. Thank Him. Make a habit or remembering the goodness and mercy of God.
Where is God putting His finger in your life today?
But temptations to be forgetful will come specially when things are not going that well. So like I said at the very beginning of Hebrews 12:3, Consider Him, who endured from sinners such hostility against himself, so that you may not grow weary or fainthearted.
Whatever season it is that you are in, do not take His discipline lightly, or despise it, as Hebrews 12:5 says. You see, the writer of Hebrews is quoting from Proverbs 3:11-12. I think the danger with discipline is that when we are going through it, we might either take it lightly (we might despise it/hate it), or we actually may become so discouraged that we will feel that we cannot go on. We might become weary.
And I also think that’s why the author of Hebrews gives us in Hebrews 12:6 (that accords to Proverbs 3:12) the reason to persevere. The reason we are able to endure is not because we Suck it, up buttercup. The reason is that the Lord disciplines the one He loves, and chastises every son whom He receives. If you are in Christ, God loves you with an everlasting, electing love that He only gives to His children, and that’s why He is training you, because He wants you to become like His Son. So we endure it with joy.
Hebrews 12:2 says we endure in the race by looking at Jesus. We set aside the sin that entangles us, and we focus on Him. He endured because of the joy that was set before Him, He despised the shame of the cross. I think looking inward or looking at others will disappoint us dearly, so we ought to consider ONLY Him. He is a man of sorrows and acquainted with grief (Isaiah 53:3).
There are many more things that I wish I could say, but for now I guess I’ll just finish by saying this:
My God is always good. He makes no mistakes, and everything that has happened and will happen in my life happens because He considered it necessary for my training as His child. He loves me, and His discipline is one of fatherly love. I know that now. That actually makes me happy and able to find joy in the midst of the trials of this life. I don’t know the reasons of why things happen, and I don’t really think I need to know or that I could handle it. But I know the One who holds the universe by the word of His power, and I trust Him completely.
Trial, to speak plainly, is the instrument by which our Father in heaven makes Christians more holy. By trial He calls out their passive graces and proves whether they can suffer His will as well as do it. By trial He weans them from the world, draws them to Christ, drives them to the Bible and prayer, shows them their own hearts, and makes them humble. This is the process by which He “prunes” them and makes them more fruitful. The lives of the saints in every age are the best and truest comment on the text. Never, hardly, do we find and eminent saint, either in the Old Testament or the New, who was not purified by suffering and, like His Master, a “man of sorrows.”
Learn us learn to be patient in the days of darkness, if we know anything of vital union with Christ. Let us remember the doctrine of the passage before us [John 15:1-6] and not murmur and complain because of trials. Our trials are not meant to do us harm, but good. God chastens us “for our profit, that we may be partakers of His holiness” (Hebrews 12:10). Fruit is the thing that our Master desires to see in us, and He will not spare the pruning knife if He sees we need it. In the last day we shall see that all was well done.
J.C.Ryle, Expository Thoughts on The Gospel of John, p.268
I have not kept my goal for blogging this year. Let’s see… what has happened in our lives lately?
Danny is six months old, and almost 18 lb.
2. There was a winter storm in Houston like a month ago, and we lost power and water. The house got around 50F, so it was like camping, but nicer.
3. We also went camping. Emerson ran a 50K trail-race, and I am training for a 5K pushing Danny on the stroller.
COLORADO BEND STATE PARK
4. Homeschooling is going well. There are days that are complicated because Danny cries all the time, and I just can’t teach the children some subjects. Other days he sleeps well and we can have a lot of subjects done, but not as many as we were used to. I am looking forward to having a long break, but not too long, otherwise they will forget stuff. LOL!
Some people have told me I need to relax, that the children will do fine with school. I am trying to believe that. I am trying to remember that you don’t have a baby every homeschool year, right? Right? If we do have another baby (and it is my prayer that we do) then it will only get crazier, but sweeter 🙂
I turned 38 years old last week. It was a sweet celebration. I had my favorite for dinner: steak, sweet potatoes, and asparagus. There was also a humongous chocolate cake that I made myself, although the recipe is not mine. A sweet friend from church shared it with me since I basically ate an entire 9 in. x 13 in. cake pan when they brought us dinner after Dany was born 😬
So I finally finished reading my commentary on the book of Ephesians, and I began reading the book of Colossians. I have always wanted to study Colossians deeper as I’ve heard it talks about the supremacy of Christ. My commentary is on the way, but this morning I read this from Colossians 1:9-14,
And so, from the day we heard, we have not ceased to pray for you, asking that you may be filled with the knowledge of his will in all spiritual wisdom and understanding, 10 so as to walk in a manner worthy of theLord, fully pleasing to him:bearing fruit in every good work and increasing in the knowledge of God; 11 being strengthened with all power, according to his glorious might, for all endurance and patience with joy; 12 giving thanks to the Father, who has qualified you to share in the inheritance of the saints in light. 13 He has delivered us from the domain of darkness and transferred us to the kingdom of his beloved Son, 14 in whom we have redemption, the forgiveness of sins.
As I shared in my last post, I have been reading You Who, by Rachel Jankovic. I cannot say I did not know what she has been talking about throughout the whole book. I did know. I am terrible at remembering my Savior, though. I sin when I forget whom do I belong to. I was thinking about this two days after my birthday:
“Will there be a day in which I won’t feel the temptation of wanting to be enough APART from Christ?”
I know I am nothing without Him. I know my identity is in Him. I know every breath is a mercy coming from Him. I know – in my head. And then I forget. I don’t forget to the point of going backwards five years in my life, say, like when I began Christian counseling; there are days, however, where the feelings don’t match what I read in the Scriptures. And that’s where the fight is, right? At least for me. It really takes the work of the Holy Spirit to bring life into my heart to help me see Christ every day in the text. It takes the Holy Spirit to make me die to self every single morning as I start my day.
The chapter Turn to Christ is by far my favorite because she talks about the sun and the moon. It rocked my world!
Being oriented to Christ and to the glory of God is in fact the answer to almost every human trouble. The fact that it is almost always the correct answer is NOT the same thing as being the answer we always want to hear. The phrase “Turn to Christ” is a well-trod path in Christian encouragement. You have probably heard it before, and here I am saying it all over again. If you are struggling in your life, this kind of advice might make you feel like you are being dismissed.
Do you feel lonely? Turn to Christ.
Do you feel like you are laboring under burdens that are destroying you? Turn to Christ.
Do you feel the deep need to know and be known? Turn to Christ.
Do you wonder where the time is going and why anything matters? Turn to Christ
Ain’t this the truth? Turning to Christ is the obvious answer, but she is right, sometimes I don’t want to hear that. Maybe in all my ramblings, I hope, you can see that I am a selfish individual in desperate need of God’s saving grace. It has never been my intention to present myself as anything else. This chapter was awesome to read. It exposed my sin clearly. I was like, “WOW… somebody finally put into words what I feel when everything in me wants to yell like Pam.”
Mostly, this is how the inside of me feels when I struggle. And I almost never have time to sit down right then, and think why I feel the way I feel, and deal with it quickly. If I let it go for a long time, it just starts piling up, piling up, piling up, and then BOOM!
I learned to do that in counseling. It wasn’t like the counselor would teach me how to think, she would just basically ask me questions, and I would ramble for an hour and cry. It takes time and prayer to deal with my feelings. By prayer, I don’t mean hearing the voice of God telling me what’s wrong. I mean I actually ask God to help me deal with my feelings as I read His Word. It has been His Word and seeing Him there, seeing Christ there, what has healed my once-broken heart. But it does take time for me to process why I feel the way I feel at times. There is always sin involved.
Like the other day, my husband and I argued for a whole day. I was so upset. It was so stupid in the end. He was so kind in listening to me trying to put two sentences together without me getting angry or overwhelmed. Then the children would come and interrupt, or it was time to cook, or the baby would cry… It all ended up being that I wanted romance in our marriage. And when he said it, it took him two seconds. He said, “Karla, I know what you want. You want romance.”
I was like, “Why didn’t you say that five hours ago!? It would have taken us five minutes to deal with this issue, and not the whole day.” But he was so sweet and said he wanted to hear me, to hear how I felt, and telling me what he already knew was not gonna help. He is really patient with me.
I know that for many of you this admonition would make you think something like this: “Yes, yes, I see Christ. But what about this mess here? I’m talking about this mess in my life, I am not talking about Him! I know He is perfect, I just can’t figure out how that is supposed to help me right now! I want to be known because I want a husband, not because I don’t know about Christ. I want to be free of the guilt and shame of my weight problem because I want to be attractive, and I don’t see how looking to Christ will magically make me more appealing! I want someone to tell me that I matter to them and that I am important, not read the words of Christ because He says those things to everyone. I want something more than that. Stop telling me to look to Christ because I already know about Him and I’m still here having this problem!”
Talk about some honesty here! I had not seen that level of honesty in a book – ever. I have felt like that. That’s the kind of thing that got me into counseling. I was manipulating my children, my husband, and all my relationships were very codependent (which is secular jargon for idolatrous). I wanted worship – that was it. Of course, I would have never said that, I don’t even think I knew what was happening to me at that moment. All I knew was that I was in a lot of pain.
The deeper I dived into my Bible, the deeper the conviction grew. It was almost as if God were performing heart surgery. The pain grew deeper in a way. I wanted my husband to love me, and give me all his attention. I wanted all his time. I wanted to feel – to be – beautiful, but then I didn’t. I would go around in circles, worrying about things, grumbling, not being happy. My family never talked about anything – everything was stuffed down. Am I making sense? If I ever felt angry or sad or whatever, I never learned to put a name to those emotions and deal with them accordingly, let alone doing so from a biblical perspective.
Like say, anger. Anger happens, but anger can be sinful. So there’s a way to express your anger, deal with your anger and actually, repent from your anger. The same with sadness. The more and the longer I read my Bible, I saw Him. I saw Christ as beautiful. Everything that I ever wanted, He was giving it to me, and I was rejecting Him because I wanted those things from Emerson, not from Christ. Like, Christ was good and all, but I wanted to feel loved, deeply loved by my husband. Appreciated. Seen. Heard. Valued. And those things are not wrong, but there’s a fine line in which those desires can turn into idolatry. I crossed that line and Emerson, my children and other people were sitting on the throne of my heart – not Christ.
It was sinful to demand this from my husband. It was evil of me to manipulate the relationship in order to get those things, you know, like when you play victim? Plus It was actually unfair. I was putting on my husband the burden of carrying my heart, my troubles, my pain, when the man was not even able. Emerson is a great man, but He is not Jesus. Emerson is not supposed to satisfy my every single need or fulfill me – God is.
Anyway, this is not a counseling session, and of course, I don’t expect you to relate to me. I am just here thinking no one gets to write a book and nail those feelings perfectly just randomly. This woman, Rachel, has to have experienced those herself. And I am thankful she is better at writing them down, and doesn’t ramble like me LOL! I am thankful she point us to Christ. This book has definitely done that for me. So…
This is when she talks about the moon,
This reveals something that is wrong in our thinking. Jesus Christ is not a glorious mountain that makes up part of the scenery of our life. Looking at Him in the distance as though He was an immobile and indifferent thing is part of the problem. We think we are looking to Christ when what we are doing is simply being aware of His existence.
Imagine that the moon was having a hard time. Imagine it crying to itself, saying, “I don’t know what to do anymore! I don’t feel useful. I don’t feel beautiful. I just sit here in the darkness all the time with no purpose, no goals, no identity. I feel useless, adrift. No one cares about me or wants me to be anything special.”
What if someone could say to the moon, “Look to the sun! Just do what you were made for! Reflect the glory! Look to the sun while you go on your journey and your face will be bright! You are beautiful when you are oriented to the sun. You are purposeful when you are oriented to the sun. You are needed when you are oriented to the sun. You were made to be oriented to the sun!”
Now imagine the moon saying something like, “Oh, that? That seems sort of unrelated. Why would that help me? What does that have to do with anything? I mean, I know it is there, but it has always been there. It doesn’t have anything to do with the way I am feeling right now. It just seems like pointless platitudes. It doesn’t really feel like you are listening to me.”
On a fundamental level, we were created in order to do this. This is our purpose. This is our calling. Whenever we are feeling lost and adrift and without purpose or goals or people who want us, we are in the middle of not doing our most fundamental job of looking to Christ. We don’t look to Him like we are looking at a poster of a faraway place. We do not look to Him like He is a piece of information in a textbook. We do not look at Him like we look at an old family snapshot, remembering a good time. We look to Him as we were created to look at Him—in an interactive, glorifying relationship. We reflect His glory. This metaphor of the moon and the sun is a biblically accurate metaphor for our relationship to Christ.
After reading that, I literally thought, “I’m an idiot.” 🤦♀️
I knew this. I knew this. And yet this was so clear. I seriously praised the Lord for His mercy in letting me see it yet again. All my issues always come when I start trying to reflect my own light. Can people reflect light? Of course they can. But when they try to reflect their own light, they end up being burned down. It is pretty exhausting.
Am I pretty enough?
Am I good enough?
Am I smart enough?
Am I thin enough?
Like, good enough for WHAT?!
I was talking to my son the other day. He was boasting about being better than his sister at playing this typing game they play. He didn’t come to me to share how much he liked the game, his intent was to tell me he was much better than her. I hate that. I don’t encourage that. I said, “Wait a minute. Can you actually type like she does? Because she is pretty good at it. I mean, she basically typed a whole chapter of my book faster than I could. Can you actually type?”
Of course he said no. I knew this. That was my way to poke at his heart.
So then we talked about his bragging, and how sinful the attitude in his heart was. He was boasting at being better at a game than his sister. I explained to him that I enjoy him playing that typing game, but that really, the whole point of those games is to improve his typing. If his typing is not really improving, then I don’t care how good he is at playing it. He has to actually finish his typing lessons, just like his sister did. I told him it was not my intention to hurt his feelings, but he needed to know that he was being proud, and being proud was an abomination to the Lord. We also looked at some Scriptures that literally said that. I was already feeling I was preaching to myself. God does that often when you are a parent.
Poor guy, he probably was just sharing with me, or maybe he wasn’t; it is those moments that I often use to disciple them. We talked about comparing oneself to others and how that is a terrible and dangerous game to play. If he is better than his sister at something, then he would be feeling better about himself, right? But when his sister is better than him at other things, then he gets depressed. I know my son. He is a mini me – physically and emotionally.
He actually said the other day that he felt like a lousy worm in the dirt (or something like that) when he does Math. Lots of drama, you see. This boy of mine needs to be confronted with the attitudes in his heart often.
And I do exactly the same thing!! Because deep down, hear me out… if I were actually better than other people, and I could be sure I am, or if at least I were satisfied where I am without comparing myself to others, then I would be content. We would be content in general. We would say that we are good at this or good at that. Nothing wrong with that, I talked about this in my last post. It is not sinful to recognize what God has done through you as long as you don’t glorify an earthly vessel.
Of course, I would never say I am much better than someone else at something. I know better, I know that sometimes that doesn’t look good on the outside, especially if I say it in order to feel better about myself. If I were actually better than others, and I knew it, I would be happy. We are always happy when we play the comparison game, and we end up being the better ones. Are we not?
But here’s the thing. Sometimes we don’t know if we are better, or we are not sure, and so, what do we do? We start asking questions, but we don’t ask direct questions like, “Am I more beautiful than my friend Sally?” or “Am I smart enough to finish a Science degree?” or “Am I fit enough to carry another pregnancy?” or “Am I a better mom than my neighbor?”
And what is the purpose of these questions anyway? Again, this is my way of processing things. Take no offense at this. I hope it does expose your idols if you have them.
My purpose when I begin the loophole of comparing myself to others and wondering whether I am good enough, or better than, is always that I, somehow, feel empty. Like Rachel said, “Whenever we are feeling lost and adrift and without purpose or goals or people who want us, we are in the middle of not doing our most fundamental job of looking to Christ.”
I look at other people to validate me. I look at other things to make me happy. I want to shine. I want to feel loved and appreciated and heard. And all those things are valid, but I will never shine the way I am supposed to shine as long as I keep trying to shine for my own sake, or for the sake of those things. I only shine my best when I shine for the sake of my Maker. When I am on the losing end in the comparison game, and I’m often there, life gets really blue. When I look at my husband and his reasoning skills, and his way of being organized, and his self-discipline, and his efficiency when he talks, and how focused he can be – basically he is everything that I am naturally not… Boy, when I look at him, I can get depressed so quickly. So quickly.
But I must not look up to other people to be my sun. I have a Sun, and it is Christ. When I try to shine and reflect the light of others, as if they were my sun; or when I try to be the sun of others, and make their lives revolve around me; or when I try to be my own sun, and get so focused on the self… Whenever I do any of that I am nothing but a thief. I am trying to steal the light from the One who owns the light. In reality I am nothing but a dark satellite with no light coming from me at all. When I bring myself up because I’m amazing at something, or when I bring myself down, and throw pity parties because my performance sucks; when I do all those things, I am opposing God by trying to steal the glory that rightfully belongs to only Him.
I mean, isn’t that what Satan did? He didn’t want to reflect the light. He wanted to BE the light. Satan was not perfectly content with being a beautiful satellite reflecting the light of the Sun. Satan wanted to be THE Sun, and that was precisely his downfall.
So I had this conversation with my son. I mean, not like that, but very similar. How gracious of God to give me, a sinner, the joy and the huge responsibility to raise little sinners. I had empathy. I actually talked to him about some of my struggles. The latest one being the use of make up because I woke up the other day and I saw in the mirror that I’m getting old. It was fun watching videos on how to apply it and what not, but at the end of the day, the dark circles and the wrinkles around my eyes are still there.
I shared with Enzo that deep in my heart sometimes I would like to be young again. I shared that the skin around my belly is not as firm as it once was, and everything is hanging low, and that very likely, it will continue to drop. And I have dark circles, and I want to look beautiful and vibrant, and he was laughing!
In the middle of my confessions, he actually said,
You see, my intention was to point him to Christ, not to his own abilities at the video game. I encouraged him to look to Christ if he doesn’t want to be carried away trying to be good at doing life on his own strength. He needs to practice typing, and also work hard at it; he can also be content if he is good at the game or at actual typing, but he should not boast about his abilities. He should rather praise God for them. How much of that talk actually made it into his heart? I don’t know. I pray a lot of it did.
It is always pride, isn’t it? Sometimes it masquerades as false humility when we try to put ourselves down or when we obsessively think about ourselves, and how we are not good enough this, or not good enough that. That’s the issue. Is culture trying to encourage our relationship with the One True God? No, culture always points us to ourselves. We are not the answer, though.
So here’s my mini-commentary of what I have thought about Colossians (finally!). It’s all stuff that has been on my mind since I read that chapter on the sun and the moon. I am probably preaching to myself here,
Look, you. Stop trying to pursue your own glory. It is not about you anyway. Whatever you do, do it for the glory of God, not for your own glory. Don’t be a glory thief. Be thankful your Maker has bestowed on you the great privilege of actually being able to reflect his glory, and that the more that He conforms you to the image of His Son, the more glorious you will become be, and the brighter you will actually shine. You will get the joy, and He will get the praise.
Forget about yourself. You want to please God? You really want to know if you are doing a good job? Then read. It is possible. God can actually be pleased with you. Stop trying to please others or make others please you until your face turns blue. Instead, get to work in pleasing Him because this is what life is all about. Here is how you do it.
Pray. Pray that He fills you up with with the knowledge of His will. When you know His will for your life, you will actually walk in a manner worthy of the Lord. When you know His will, you will actually be fully pleasing to Him. I am talking about the revealed will of God, not His will of decree. You can know His will in the things that you can actually do.
Your husband asked you to shred the pork? Do it, and do it gladly. Don’t give him the faces you give him, or rolls your eyes at him when he asks you to groom the gods. Submit to him, be a helper. Respect him. Honor him. Wanna please God? Endure with patience and joy. Take your children to the playground, and breath a prayer of thanksgiving. You actually have three children now. Didn’t you want that? Enjoy them, love them, cherish them. Yes, they can be particularly obnoxious at times, but so are you. Forgive them. Be compassionate with them.
Put to death what is earthly in you. Do not covet the life of others as if they have it better than you. You walked on these evil ways before, but now you must put them all away. Put away your wrath, kill your sin. Get up early to read your Bible. Go for a run. Be joyful. Pray often. Give thanks – in everything. This is God’s will for you in Christ Jesus. Renew your mind. Don’t be a slave to sin.
Want to please God? Bear good fruit in every good work. Of course, go to church, read your Bible, and catechize your children, but don’t miss the forest for the trees. Bearing fruit is more than just doing good works or checking off a list. You can’t please God without faith first. When you begin checking off lists, you get overwhelmed and start thinking you will never please Him. The list will never end, and it is not about the list. It’s not about doing, it’s about being. You are His child. You have His love. You belong to Him. You are His, and He is yours.
God has prepared all these good works already for you to walk in them, so walk in them. You were saved not by works, but unto good works. You were saved for good works. Live accordingly. In your homeschool, teach them to love Christ. In your neighborhood, be kind. Speak truth. Do not shrink back. Make dinner joyfully. Get your hands dirty. Bake more bread. Make more pizza dough. Involve your family. It is a mercy, not a burden, that you get to cook often, and that there is always plenty. If you haven’t, give thanks.
Offer your whole live as sacrifice to the Lord. And do all this for His glory. Ask Him to give you His strength, for you will burn out if you are trying to do this on your own. The more you do this, the happier you will become, and the less self absorbed you will be. You will stop thinking about your skin not being firm, or your the wrinkles in your face.
More on how to please Him? Increase in your knowledge of your Creator. Repent. Embrace a high view of God and the Scriptures. Submit to a local church. When something rubs you wrong, you are the problem, not the Word. Be willing to be wronged, and be wiling to be taken advantage of at times – specially in your own household. Be patient. Endure. If pain and suffering visit your life for awhile, regard them as friends, not as foes. God is treating you like His child. He loves you, and He never gives to His children anything that they don’t need. If you find yourself without zeal for your Maker, then you are not living in His will.
In case I forget, give thanks! He has qualified you. He qualifies you. He literally made you able. He has made you competent, He has made you sufficient. Fit to work. You are not trying to live a worthy life. You are already worthy IN CHRIST – worthy of an inheritance of light. You are already qualified. Live up to it. Work out your own salvation with fear and trembling then, because it is He who works in you to will and work for His good pleasure. He will complete His work in you.
He has transferred from the dominion of darkness into the kingdom of His beloved Son – what a gift! What a glorious truth! Rejoice!! You have been redeemed, you have been forgiven. Therefore lift your drooping hands and strengthen your weak knees, and make straight paths for your feet, so that what is lame may not be put out of joint but rather be healed. Get your second wind and keep running the race. Open your eyes, and fight the good fight of the faith. It is not easy. Be on your guard. Haven’t you noticed lately that the enemy of your soul never sleeps? He’s always prowling like a lion, ready to devour you. Strive for peace with everyone, and for the holiness without which no one will see the Lord.
There’s no difference when done to the honor of the Lord between preaching and washing the dishes. As touching to please God, there is no difference at all. Do not look for loopholes. Women are not given the role of preaching with authority to men. Read your Bible. Trust and obey.
And STOP asking if you are enough. Ask yourself instead, ‘Am I fully pleasing to God?’ You will literally have your whole life with enough work in your hands to make sure you do.
Sister, as my Pastor told me, always keep your eyes on Christ and not men, and you will never be disappointed!
Wanna hear something super funny? I thought I had ordered a new commentary on Colossians. I was sure I had done that. But nope, I order a commentary on John 😂
A recent conversation with my son helped me realize one more time the truth that children learn/absorb more than we think they do from the environment in which they are spending their time.
We were listening to For The Longest Time, by Billy Joel, on my iPhone. I love that song, I love the tune of it. There is something about it that makes me feel happy, and it’s not the lyrics. It’s literally the music. My husband says it’s harmony. I’m not a musician, but I trust him, so let’s just say it is the harmony in that song what makes me smile.
Believe it or not, after 13 years of living in America, listening to music in English has never been one of my favorite things to do. I still can’t understand what most people are saying if they’re singing, and I still use the subtitles when I watch a movie. That’s why I don’t like talking to people on the phone. Unless I can have a conversation face to face, or I can communicate with them via text, I get very anxious.
So Enzo and I were playing Catan while listening to the song, and I was reading the lyrics on my phone. Then I read this:
Maybe this won’t last very long,
But you feel so right, and I could be wrong…
Who knows how much further we’ll go on,
Maybe I’ll be sorry when you’re gone.
I’ll take my chances,
I forgot how nice romance is,
I haven’t been there for the longest time…
I literally stopped the song, and said,“Did you hear that? What is he talking about? What does that even mean? He is saying he doesn’t even know if this is the woman he wants to spend his life with. He knows this relationship might not last for long, but she feels right for him, at least right now. Even if they end up breaking up, maybe – just maybe – he’ll miss her. But for now, he just wants to be with her because romance is nice. You are not to be that kind of man, you hear me? I am not raising that kind of man.”
He said what he always says when I give him that tone of voice, and he knows that a talk is coming. He said, “Yes, Patootie.”
We talked about the reality that his dad grew up listening to that kind of music. Emerson has also always listened to Classic Rock ever since we were dating sixteen years ago. He has also listened to Pop Music (from the 80’s, I guess). I think there’s some kind of nostalgia there, and it is totally understandable. I think Emerson’s inheritance from his dad will include at least seven hundred – SEVEN HUNDRED – records. So Emerson was raised listening to lots of different music.
I told Enzo that I had never asked Daddy to stop listening to that kind of music because I know that he likes it, and honestly, I really like the tune of many of the songs, too. I like some songs by Queen, or Paul Simon. There’s something about Diamonds On The Soles Of Her Shoes – specially if you hear it in my husband’s music room.
Anyway, this was actually the first time that I had realized what Billy Joel was singing. So we talked about how music can really get you into certain kind of mood, and how you always have to be aware of what you’re singing because the reality is, most of the time, the more you sing something, the more your end up believing what you are singing.
And then Enzo said, “I know what you mean Mommy. Like, when it says, ‘So lock up your daughter, lock up your wife, lock up your back door, run for your life.'”
I asked him what in the world he was talking about.
He said it was from AC/DC’s T. N. T. I had never caught that’s where the lyrics said, since all I understand from that song is the “Oi, Oi, Oi” and “T.N.T, I’m dynamite.”
No, we don’t rejoice when we hear those songs, and as far as I know, Emerson has respected my wishes of not listening to specific songs that bothered me, like Queen’s Fat Bottom Girls, or AC/DC’s Highway To Hell.
What I am saying is that children are aware of those things even when I am not, or even when I think they are not. I firmly believe I should not isolate my children into a Christian bubble, otherwise they will be shocked when they go into the world. It is my job to train them, and to expose them to the evils in this world. I want to be the one introducing them to those things.
You may not agree with me, so I am posting this podcast for your consideration. Tom Ascol, who is one of the pastors that I respect the most (after my own pastor), relates the story of his high school daughter. She was homeschooled, and at one time there was an incident (involving cursing words) at the community college she was attending that made her vulnerable. He realized that there had been a gap in her education by her not knowing those foul words.
I really encourage you to listen to it. The podcast The Sword & The Trowel, by Founders Ministries, is also available wherever you get your podcasts. The YouTube link is below.
So with our children we watch all kinds of movies. We have watched Jaws, The Meg, all Jurassic Worlds, all the Marvel movies, all the Harry Potter movies, The Mandalorian (Season 2 is coming – YEAH!!), among others that might make many Christian parents cringe. I understand and respect that.
We talk about those movies. We talk about Moana’s false narrative that Unreached People Groups do not need the gospel. We talk about demi-gods like Maui, and the reincarnation of the grandma. Also, Moana seems to just be following her heart. We have talked about Frozen – particularly Frozen 2. Let’s just say it’s pretty dark if you think long and hard about the voices Elsa is listening to. We have watched Onward, and we have talked about the scenes in which there’s the push to normalize homosexuality.
They don’t watch nudity if there is any – including scenes where people are kissing in suggestive ways (like Anakin and Padme in Star Wars). We talk about cursing words. They are also watching The Simpsons with Emerson. I don’t like that show, but the children love it. They, along with Dad, think it is hilarious. Emerson also grew up watching them.
I actually interviewed Libby for this blog. I asked her to tell me about The Simpsons while I typed.
Homer is kind of an idiot, and because he is an idiot, he is kinda funny. He is a bad dad, and a bad son. He doesn’t even care for his father, and because of that, the children don’t care for their grandfather.
Marge is kind of nice to people, but her sisters are horrible. They hate Homer, and they smoke. Bart is a terrible kid, and when he does bad things, his parents don’t really discipline him. I don’t really think much about Lisa, other than she’s very smart. The Itchy and Scratchy Show… I don’t know why it is funny to them, it is not funny to me. Violence should not be funny.
Principal Skinner still lives with his mother, but he doesn’t really care for her. He acts like she is a burden. Maggie, you don’t see her very often.
Mr. Burns is very rich, and everybody works for him, and he is so selfish. Overall, I like The Simspons becasue they are funny.
And that’s that.
Emerson says that the fact that we know all that about the characters is precisely what makes them funny. I guess it’s like watching The Office. That show is so politically incorrect… and that’s exactly what makes it hilarious.
This is what takes me to my main point. The Simpsons was not the first thing I introduced my children to, nor has been it what I have filled their minds with. If Libby, an articulate almost 10 year-old, can have such an opinion of the show is because she has a biblical world-view.
My children have a standard for righteousness. They know what is right and what is wrong, and they know (for the most part, I mean, they are still children) how to evaluate the reality to which they are exposed to. Since they were super little we have worked very hardly to expose them to the Scriptures. They understand the gospel, and to the best of our ability, and by God’s grace, we are training them in the discipline and instruction of the Lord (Ephesians 6:4).
Tom Ascol mentions in the podcast (around minute 21) that the word INSTRUCTION (paideia in Greek) involves that you just don’t give your children facts, but you train them, you inculturate them. You actually instill a way of understanding the thing that you are teaching, and that goes along with Deuteronomy 6:4-9. No subjects are off limits, and of course, you don’t expose them to all the evils in the world, and they don’t have to experience it, but children do need to learn about evil from their parents.
By God’s grace, we have talked with our children about LBGTQ issues, sex, masturbation, pregnancy, rape, pornography, sexting, bestiality, sexual immorality, drunkenness, etc. It is all in the Bible if you are consistenly reading it with them. This has not been done in ONE sitting, and it’s really a long conversation that has happened over the span of many years. Maybe you might think they are too little for that. Libby is 9.5 y.o., and Enzo is almost 8 y.o. I respect your opinion, but I want to challenge you to think through it.
A long time ago, in an article from Focus on the Family, I read that what robs the innocence of a child is NOT the information you give them, but actually the self-discovery of such information, specially if they discover it or experience it in sinful ways.
I am not going to sit down with my child and show him what porn looks like, but I can describe it to him. I can give him wisdom on what to do if such images were ever to pop on a screen. I am not encouraging them to have sex before marriage, but I am going to explain to them the consequences of it. I have many consequences from it that I still carry to this day. And we always go back to the Bible, and what God has said about those issues, and the reasons God has for having set those boundaries for His people. It goes beyond just telling them that sex before marriage is sinful. We have to engage their hearts and explain why.
You see, sex in itself is not wrong or evil. Sex is a beautiful thing that God gave married coupes to enjoy each other, and when practiced between a man and a woman who are committed in covenant for life, it speaks to the relationship Jesus has with His Bride – the Church. That’s the kind of intimacy God wants with His children. Marriage is supposed to testify of the loving, long-suffering, compassionate, forgiving God. Jesus would never give up on His Bride, and say, “I am done with you, I don’t love you anymore.”
No! He died for her, He drank the cup of the wrath of God for her. “What then shall we say to these things?”says Paul. “If God is for us, who can be against us? He [God] who did not spare His own Son, but gave Him up for us all, how will He not also with him graciously give us all things?” (Romans 8:31-32)
And that’s why God hates divorce.
So I’m very welcoming of your criticism if you think I’m wrong in talking about these issues with my children. BUT – and this is a big one – IF you have your child enrolled in public school, and you think somehow they are not being exposed to all of the craziness going around in this culture already, then somebody is being naive. And I know it’s not me. Very respectfully I challenge you to think through it. I am not saying you have to homeschool. Maybe you do have to work, and private Christian school is not affordable (even a Christian school can only be Christian in name). I understand that. There are many situations that I don’t know about. I am talking about the parent whose child is in public school, and thinks his children are too young to know about these things. To assume your children are not being exposed to this already, in my opinion, is to be naive at best, and irresponsible at worst.
I think I’ve talked too much already, and haven’t said what I originally intended to say. Oh, well…
My point is this:
You know I have been reading Philippians. This morning I was in Philippians 4:8-9: “Finally, brothers, whatever is true, whatever is honorable, whatever is just, whatever is pure, whatever is lovely, whatever is commendable, if there is any excellence, if there is anything worthy of praise, think about these things. What you have learned and received and heard and seen in me—practice these things, and the God of peace will be with you.”
I read my commentary, then I went for a walk and I listened to a sermon on it. I am linking the sermon here. It is a great sermon, and actually part of a whole series Pastor John McArthur taught on the book of Philippians. He says, “In order to be spiritual stable you must focus on godly virtues. Spiritual stability is a result of how you think.”
How true is that. As long as we don’t dwell and meditate on God’s Word, then we cannot train our children to do the same, and teach them how to think critically and biblically about the world around them.
I hope the photos of the commentary will help you see what we as mothers should be meditating on, dwelling on, and filling our minds with. You might as well buy it. It is awesome!
SPOILER ALERT: WE MUST DWELL ON GOD’S WORD.
I woke up in the middle of the night to finish typing this. It was around 2:30 a.m., and I couldn’t sleep. “One hour,” I said. “It will only take me one hour to finish.”
It is almost 5 a.m. LOL! Guess I am getting ready for those sleepless nights for when Danny is here 🙂
A lot of things have happened recently. We are in our fifteenth week of homeschooling, and the magic has disappeared. Maybe I mentioned that already in another post. I am not as excited as I was at the beginning, and homeschooling is not as “awesome” as I thought it would be.
Let me rephrase that. My definition of “awesome” was: effortless, leisurable, and comfortable. Homeschooling has been anything but that. Yes, it has been awesome, but my perspective on what “awesome” actually is has changed.
I heard this at a conference, you know – it’s not like I was clueless. They said this was going to be hard – that I should expect it to be hard. What was I thinking? That somehow my children somehow managed to escape the Total Depravity of man? LOL!
9What then? Are we better than they? Not at all; for we have already charged that both Jews and Greeks are all under sin;10as it is written,
“THERE IS NONE RIGHTEOUS, NOT EVEN ONE; 11THERE IS NONE WHO UNDERSTANDS, THERE IS NONE WHO SEEKS FOR GOD; 12ALL HAVE TURNED ASIDE, TOGETHER THEY HAVE BECOME USELESS; THERE IS NONE WHO DOES GOOD, THERE IS NOT EVEN ONE.” 13“THEIR THROAT IS AN OPNE GRAVE, WITH THEIR TONGUES THEY KEEP DECEIVING,” “THE POISON OF ASPS IS UNDER THEIR LIPS”; 14 “WHOSE MOUTH IS FULL OF CURSING AND BITTERNESS”; 15“THEIR FEET ARE SWIFT TO SHED BLOOD, 16DESTRUCTION AND MISERY ARE IN THEIR PATHS, 17AND THE PATH OF PEACE THEY HAVE NOT KNOWN.” 18 “THERE IS NO FEAR OF GOD BEFORE THEIR EYES.”
– Romans 3:9-18 NASB
The children and I spent a couple of weeks memorizing these verses as we have been studying the true condition of man’s nature after The Fall of Adam and Eve. I am a loyal ESV Bible reader, but lately I’ve been using the NASB. It capitalizes the text of the New Testament every time the Old Testament is quoted. How amazing is that?
In Romans 3:9-18, the apostle Paul is simply quoting the Hebrew Scriptures. He quotes Psalm 14:1-3, Psalm 53:1-3, Psalm 5:9, Psalm 140:3, Psalm 10:7, Proverbs 1:16, Isaiah 59:7,8.
And it makes sense, right? That as Paul is making the case for the sinfulness of man, the Jews are affirming everything they hear. They probably are thinking those non-Jews are the worst, and then Paul goes on to say, that EVERY ONE is under sin, both Jews and Greeks [non-Jews] alike. For there is no distinction, for all have sinned and fall short of the glory of God (Romans 3:23)
During Bible time we have also talked about how the doctrine of Total Depravity does not mean you are as evil as you could be, but it does mean that the fall of Adam was so radical that the body, the mind, the will, the spirit—indeed, the whole person—have been infected by the power of sin. So our only hope then to overcome that condition is the mercy of God. We cannot just make some small adjustments or behavioral modifications, but we need a new heart. We need to be regenerated, we need to be born again from above. And as Jesus would explain to Nicodemus, being born into the kingdom is not a matter of man’s will, since flesh gives birth to flesh. But being born of the Holy Spirit is like the wind – it goes wherever it wishes, and you hear its sound, but you do not know where it comes from or where it goes.
So how can someone be born again?
Do you put your faith in Jesus [pray a prayer or do whatever you need to do] and as a result of that action you are born again into the kingdom of God?
You are born again from above [without your input, God changes your heart without your permission] and as a result you willingly come to faith and repentance in Christ?
I am convinced from the Scriptures that the latter is the biblical explanation for why anybody is a Christian. Anyways… it’s not new (at least in my own circles) that Reformed Theology has changed the way I see everything in life, and homeschooling is no exception.
I think this is what I have been confronted over and over again these fifteen weeks. My children were very responsive and excited the first week. They listened for the most part, and were obedient. Now, however, most of our days we are angry at our neighbor who is annoying us for the 24th time in the day…
Civil War Weekend 2019
Libby and Enzo sit together side by side, and Enzo gets on her face all the time. Change seats, right? That’s the answer!! Well, nobody wants to change seats. Most of the classes they have to take together, so it is only natural that the older will be faster at some things, like writing or taking notes. The other morning, Libby started a whole argument in the bathroom trying to control the amount of time Enzo brushed his teeth. She is prone to have cavities so the rule for her is that she has to brush her teeth for two minutes using a small sand clock that she has. Enzo had one, too, but he broke it one day when he was angry. So… Libby was brushing her teeth and Enzo did not brush his teeth for the whole two minutes since she had already started with the clock. Well, that made Libby upset and she began bossing him around. He snapped at her about how he doesn’t have to obey her, and in retribution, she stuck her tongue at him and walked away.
Pretty funny, right? Although, it is not.
He then tossed his toothbrush full of toothpaste at the mirror, and made a mess which he proceeded to clean, but was having a difficult time cleaning. Then I realized all this had happened in less than two minutes, and I was not even aware of it. I was making my coffee in the kitchen and the only reason I got involved is because Enzo asked for help on how to clean the mirror. I just asked him what had happened, and he got all hot again, which is and has always been a struggle for him – his anger. Then he began raising his voice at me, and I was not even part of this argument, but he began disrespecting me. It took us probably more than ten minutes to settle the whole argument, with both parties involved, and without yelling at each other.
Everybody had to be confronted about their own sin in the situation, because everybody did sin. Libby was controlling to say the least, and then she showed contempt for her brother in sticking her tongue at him. I had a hard time not laughing when he told me he was upset because of that. It is hilarious for me as an adult who sees this from the outside, and has perspective on it, but seriously, what was happening in her heart at that particular moment that made her do that? I have showed contempt for people and for God. In a way, I have stuck my tongue at God when I have disregarded His ways, and have gone my own way.
Enzo, well, he lost control. He let his emotions rule. Yes, she sinned against him, so now how is he supposed to respond? Should he offer forgiveness or should he pay back evil for evil, and made a whole mess out of nowhere? Of course he was angry, and he had a good reason to be angry. One of the things I have learned to do in marriage is to overlook minor offenses, otherwise Emerson and I would be arguing more often!
How do we learn to do that? God is giving us plenty of daily opportunities to practice forgiveness while at the same time learning to confront sinful behavior by talking instead of throwing stuff at each other! God willing, this will be very helpful for their future marriages.
So this was the start of our day… we were just getting ready to start with Bible. I think that’s basically how all our days go – on and on throughout the day. Forget Math and Grammar, what gets me tired is fighting for the spiritual state of my children.
North Houston Baptist Church Camping Trip 2019
A while ago I shared with someone that I was gonna be homeschooling my children. They looked at me in horror, I am not kidding – HORROR – and exclaimed, “WHY?!”
LOL! I did not take offense, this was not a Christian woman, so of course we had zero agreement on what matters the most in this life. But Christian or not Christian, situations like the toothpaste are exactly why we chose to homeschool. I don’t think I have ever written it all down. I have the privilege to address my children’s hearts as only I can. I get to disciple them and spend my days teaching them what matters the most in this life.
Who is going to teach them those things if not my husband and I?
Am I really naive enough to think that their home room teacher will? Even assuming the teacher is Christian, that person has no time in the day to address my child’s heart or the other twenty children in her classroom. They do not know my children. We never intended to get the children out of the public school system to put them in a Christian bubble in order to isolate them from sin. I am stuck with these little sinners every single day, and they are stuck with me. Sin is alive and well in our household. I guess it was way easier to send them over to school where somewhere else was bothered by their misbehavior. And what would the teacher do? Have a ten minute talk about sin and how sin gets in the way of our relationships? Of course not. So basically, at the end of the day I am exhausted, but I am so thankful we are doing this.
We are studying about other cultures, and other religions, and the questions have been great so far. I was not expecting Libby to ask me how do we know that Christianity is true.
You tell us all the time the Bible is true, and that every other religion is false. But the Muslim mother is teaching her children that Islam is true, and that everything else -including Christianity – is false. How do we know who is right?
I froze for about five seconds LOL!
I didn’t have to deal with that question until I was 31 years old. Nobody ever prepared me to answer those things. And it is awesome that I get to use my spiritual gifts in teaching and preaching the gospel to my children over and over again [to my children – you know, in case you are not familiar with the uproar after Go Home].
The LORD has been so good to me and He has equipped me with so much knowledge and understanding about other religions, particularly Islam after living in India. It is a great opportunity that I get to teach apologetics and theology to my children. God has wired me with a passion for this, and it is great to be used by Him in that way. It doesn’t happen often (we do not follow a curriculum), but I think it comes often enough because we are studying the Scriptures every day. And as I write this post, I realize that the things that we have talked about have happened over a period of weeks, not necessarily in one sitting.
We have talked about the nature of truth claims, and how the most zealous sincere believers can be sincerely wrong. We have talked about how all religions share some truths together, but in reality, it is also nonsense to say that all religions teach the same things, because when you really study them side by side, they contradict each other at critical points. Simply said, Islam, Christianity, Jehova Witnesses, and Mormonism all have a different Jesus. For the JW, Jesus is Michael the archangel; for the Mormon, Jesus is the actual literal son of God who had sex with one of his many wives, brother of Satan, among other things; for Muslims, Jesus is a great prophet, but ultimately a man who, by the way, did not die on the cross (despite all the historical evidence from Jewish historians); and for Christians, Jesus is the Son of God, not a physical son, but of the same nature of the Father.
It takes a lot of time to go through many of those things. And I think that’s what I LOVE about being with them all the time. If I were not with them, all these hours that I am investing in their spiritual present and future would be spent somewhere else, with someone else, and they would be learning something else. They would still be discipled, but by other people. I know the LORD saves no matter what. He saved me, and nobody ever homeschooled me. God is mighty to save, but if I can spend this time with them, why wouldn’t I?
He decided to get a haircut 😦
Ultimately, what I am striving for is to help them see what the Bible says about the condition of fallen man and how Christ is our only hope.
I have tried to make clear to them that if at any point in their lives (including right now) there is any real desire to follow after Christ in their hearts, that desire did not originate in their sinful hearts, but that God gave them that desire. Even though I believe their confession of faith is true, ultimately only God knows whether or not their faith in Jesus is genuine. And so, if they came to Christ is because it was granted to them by God, the Father, since nobody comes to the Son unless the Father draws him. That is the plain reading of the text.
We have memorized Romans 3: 9-18.
Who seeks after God? No one. There are no true seekers apart from the Holy Spirit already working in the hearts of those people.
Who is righteous in their heart that they fear the Lord? No one. So if they really believe, it is because God changed their hearts. How or when, I do not know. But I believe what Jesus said about the Holy Spirit blowing wherever He pleases, and we only see the effects of it.
If they are Christian, it is not because they are smarter than their peers, or because they are more reasonable than the unbelievers down the street, or more humble than other children or adults who refuse to accept Jesus. No. They are Christian because God had mercy on them. They are Christian because He chose to open their eyes. They are Christian because God chose them in Christ before the foundation of the world, that they should be holy and blameless before Him. Another plain reading of the text. They are Christian because God, in love, predestined them to adoption to Himself as children through Jesus Christ, not according to their free will, or according to how amazing they are, because the text does not say that anywhere. If they are Christian, it is according to the purpose of His will, for the praise of his glorious grace. Therefore, they cannot really boast in their ability to choose for Christ, because if there is repentance and faith in their lives, even that is a gift of God, so that no one can boast.
So I guess, we pretty much are hanging on the mercy of the Lord at all times, and that is a sobering thought. I have been very anxious about several things lately, and the original intention of my post was to talk about it, but I got sidetracked… I have been realizing that, literally, my every heart beat is a gift from God – every single time my heart beats depends on the LORD keeping it beating.
So apart from the grace of God, no matter how much evidence I could provide them so that they would believe Christianity is a factual, historical, reliable faith, they would never believe it anyway. They cannot. That is exactly what the Bible claims. They are blind. They cannot please God on their own. Apart from Christ, they are God’s enemies. Apart from Christ, they are all alone in the world, without hope, following Satan. Apart from Christ, they are dead in their sins and trespasses, and by nature, children of wrath (Ephesians 1, Ephesians 2, John 6, Romans 5, Romans 8, John 3).
So they do not need evidence, the evidence is there, and will always be there. What they most desperately need is a miracle. They need the Holy Spirit to illuminate their hearts. They need to be born again. While I cannot birth them spiritually, I know that my prayers and my teaching of the Word of God to them are some of the means that God might use to bring them to faith. And even if He doesn’t, I am still commanded to do it. I need to trust God will glorify Himself through our lives.
This is basically why we homeschool. If we didn’t, we couldn’t compete with the 16,000+ hours that they would have spent in school. I want that time for Christ.
Oh, yes. Other than that, we are into crocheting, and rock climbing lately. My arms were sore for three days. I am also learning to play the piano 🙂
More than anything, this is a post that I am writing to myself. I need to be reminded of these things at this moment, and will probably continue to be reminded until glory.
I had a terrible headache a couple of nights ago. I went running with the children in the morning, and I probably didn’t drink enough water after that, or who knows. So around 11 am, the headache began creeping in. It was one of those headaches where your head is not in full-on pain, but the headache is just there, lingering. I didn’t have any medicine available that I could take, so I hoped it would go away.
We had such a busy day, that by the time we came home after running errands, I just couldn’t imagine making one more stop at the pharmacy to buy some Tylenol. I was miserable. Long story short, I had two pills at 8 pm, and went to bed. I was not really asleep, I was just closing my eyes in hopes that the medicine and the darkness in my room will make me feel better. Then, I told the LORD, “This really hurts, please, take this pain away.”
A headache is all it took for God to show me that He is in charge, and that I am, despite my illusion of power, not really in control of anything that happens in my life.
The next morning when I woke up, it was like I could SEE how my anxiety and all my first world problems had just gone away along with the headache. I was so relieved of that horrible pain that I felt happy. I was thankful that my head did not hurt at all. And I praised the LORD for that. That morning I also read this in my daily Bible reading:
Then the LORD said to him, “Who has made man’s mouth? Who makes him mute, or deaf, or seeing, or blind? Is it not I, the LORD?
For the last six months I have been going against something that I know it’s true theologically, but it seems to escape my heart again and again – that God is sovereign.
That word in itself – SOVEREIGNTY – has many different meanings to different people. I don’t think it is because there are many meanings – there is only one meaning – but most people do not like what it actually means. When I say God is sovereign, I mean that from all eternity God decreed everything that occurs, without reference to anything outside himself (Isaiah 46:10). God did this by the perfectly wise and holy counsel of his own will, freely and unchangeably. Yet God did this in such a way that He is neither the author of sin nor has fellowship with any in their sin (Ephesians 1:11).
All that seems like a lot if information, but writing these things helps me. There is more.
Since all things come to pass unchangeably and certainly in relation to the foreknowledge and decree of God (Acts 2:23), and God being the first cause, then nothing happens to anyone by chance or outside of God’s providence (Proverbs 16:33). Yet by the same providence God arranges all things to occur according to the nature of second causes, either necessarily, freely, or in response to other causes (Genesis 8:22). In His ordinary providence, God makes use of means (Acts 27:31), though He is free to work apart from them (Hosea 1:7), beyond them (Romans 4:19:21), and contrary to them (Daniel 3:27) at His pleasure.
So, I believe that, biblically speaking, God ordained my headache. God used means to bring that headache come about; whether it was dehydration or stress, I don’t know. God, however, can do as He pleases with me, and with my body – with my entire life, really, He made me. I am His creature. He has that right over me. That is what it means for God to be God. And I don’t think this makes God evil, or mean, or in any way unloving when He brings about suffering in my life, because I believe that my suffering has a purpose. I cannot go over everything that I believe regarding the character of God in order to convince others that His purposes for His people are always good.
My point for this post is that my heart gets stuck when life happens and it struggles catching up with the theology in my head. There is this particular situation in my life right now that I have no control over, and yet, I find myself going at it as if I could actually make things happen… and it’s just not happening. And it makes me angry, and it makes me sad. And so that headache the other night reminded of how fragile I really am.
I am also being reminded that I don’t pray over the situation. I pray, but not as fervently as I should; therefore, I forget that prayer is also a means that God uses in order to accomplish His purposes.
It is simply staggering that God, the Sovereign Ruler of the Universe, would ordain that prayers cause things. Prayers cause things to happen that would not happen if you didn’t pray. I wonder if there are any Calvinists out there squirming…
– John Piper
Uh, yes… Me.
Just the other day while studying Astronomy with the children, I saw a picture of a basketball side by side with a peppercorn. That’s the difference in size between the Sun and the Earth! The whole Earth is a peppercorn. What about Mount Everest? It would be a speck in the peppercorn that is next to the basketball.
What about me? What size would I be, really, compared to the Sun then?
And what size would I be when I compare myself to God?
And yet, this magnificent God, at the right time, choose to enter into His own creation to dwell among us! He freely humbled Himself, and had He not done that, I wouldn’t even be here. There are bigger purposes and bigger realities that the ones I can see. Sometimes (more like all the time) I suffer from tunnel vision. I hate that. When I pray about my situation, I pray for God to give me what I desire, but that is not the purpose of prayer. I think I am missing the whole point of prayer which is communion with God. The LORD of the universe hears me! What other thing can be more amazing than that?
So just for the last three or fours days after my headache, when I am tempted to ask why this would be happening, and why God is still not granting my desires, I just don’t question Him anymore. I don’t want to question Him. I really want to trust Him. If God can make people mute, deaf, seeing or blind, I’m sure He can change my situation, but He hasn’t, so I need to rely on Him.
I also believe that the perfectly wise, righteous, and gracious God often allows His own children for a time to experience a variety of temptations and the sinfulness of their own hearts. He does what He does to chastise them for their former sins or to make them aware of the hidden strength of the corruption and deceitfulness of their heart so that they may be humbled. I am actually experiencing this, and He is allowing that, too, to happen.
I have noticed that what I desire is taking precedence, and I can feel it in my heart. It becomes a must in my life, and that shouldn’t be. In my heart sometimes I desire my desires more than I desire God Himself. That is Idolatry 101.
God is humbling me. Uh… a headache knocked me out the other night. How foolish of me to think that I can be in control. I realize that my sin is bigger than I think it really is. I am not being faithful. I am not trusting that God allows this to lead me to a closer and more constant dependence on Him to sustain me, to make me more cautious about all future circumstances that may lead to sin, and for other just and holy purposes (2 Chronicles 32:25, 26, 31; 2 Corinthians 12:7–9).
I want to trust that whatever happens to me, happens by His appointment, for His glory, and for my good (Romans 8:28). And that DOES NOT mean that I will get my desires after suffering for a while. I am learning to trust God whether or not God gives me what I desire. I want to desire God more than I desire anything else, even if that means my desires will never be granted.
So that’s where I am lately. God will conform me to the image of His Son. I am resting on that 🙂