Everyone a Homeschooler

It has little to do with academics. The three ‘R’s of reading, writing, and ‘rithmetic may never be discussed. Scheduling is variable, sometimes nonexistent, curriculum often ignored, college degrees are irrelevant, and lesson prep is the furthest thing from your mind. Nevertheless,

 

You are a homeschooler. Every parent is.

 

When one discusses a child’s education, questions like the following are asked: … (more…)

Fixated

..this would describe a heart seized by the Spirit of God. Unapologetically consumed by Him.

Have you received the Holy Ghost since you believed?

Words fail utterly to describe this experience. It is glory, it is rest, it is comfort, it is beauty, it is holy anguish, it is power, it is JESUS. Himself. Deep calleth unto deep…so much so that the flesh can hardly bear it.

This is when you know it’s real. As a book I’ve been reading so aptly puts it, This is That. It is exquisitely described, alluded to, and promised in Scripture. All of nature points to it. From the beginning, all of history, line upon line, precept upon precept, saturated with prophecy, type, and shadow, swelled to fill the universe with glorious Power, bursting forth on Pentecost. And the gates of hell could not prevent it.

And to this day, it will not. Greater is HE! He is the Rest wherewith ye may cause the weary to rest. He is the Peace that transcends every fear.

The Breath of God warms and transforms the stony heart of man, igniting that consuming fire. It is Jesus in my soul!

Yet so many prevent Him from entering. No, the gates of hell won’t prevail. But He will not force Himself upon those who don’t truly want Him.

What unspeakable joy is found in Him, what belonging, what purpose, what identity! What love! There is no substitute.

Counterfeit, yes. Substitute, no.

Does your experience with God reflect this? Am I describing your walk with Jesus? If not, what hinders you?

For he saith, I have heard thee in a time accepted, and in the day of salvation have I succoured thee: behold, now is the accepted time; behold, now is the day of salvation.

~2 Corinthians 6:2

 

But if…thou shalt seek the Lord thy God, thou shalt find him, if thou seek him with all thy heart and with all thy soul.

~Deuteronomy 4:29

Do you know Him?

It’s two in the morning, and I can’t sleep. I have a question to ask:

Do you know Jesus?

I lay here, almost asleep, and the beating of my heart awoke me. This soul housed in my body is important enough to Him to DIE for. So is yours. Do you know this God?

I do not say this for poetic effect. I ask you sincerely.

Sure, you’ve been to church. Maybe you’ve been faithful. Do you hear Him speaking? He wants a closer walk with you. Are you listening?

Okay, maybe you’ve read His Word: His voice recorded on the page. But do you know the God of the Word?

Yes, there are enough cliches about knowing God to fill your twitter feed and Facebook status updates for years, but the question remains:

Do you know Jesus?

He speaks, pleads, screams, shouts, whispers through all the instruments of nature and circumstance to divert your attention to Him…have you noticed?

How long has it been since you felt His presence? How long has it been since you’ve seen Him move in your life? How long since you spoke in other tongues as the Spirit gave the utterance? (Yes it’s for YOU) How long has it been since the Witness of the Holy Ghost entered into your conversation and suddenly, you knew He was THERE in your midst?

Jesus won’t let me sleep, until I tell you: He is not willing that any should perish, but that all come to repentance: turning away from sin, to Him. That means YOU. His ear is not deaf that it cannot hear; His arm is not short that it cannot save!

If you have never seen Him move, or heard Him speak, or felt His presence, You CAN! He longs for you to walk with Him. He is not a God who dwells in houses made with hands..He wants your heart.

Please, please, seek Him now, while you still have time. Call on the name of Jesus. All power is His in heaven and earth, and He knocks on your door right now, ready to transform your mind, and place His eternal law in your soul.

There are no perfect words to say; He is not asking for ritualistic, vain repetition. He wants the desperate cry of a hungry heart, broken and contrite before Him. This is the acceptable sacrifice.

Sure, shrug this off as just another blogger wanting to increase traffic (If you’ve seen how often I post, you know this isn’t priority). I’m nobody. But He’s everything! He’s worth listening to, if I’m not.

I cannot any longer call myself “gospelmom” if I don’t preach the Gospel to somebody! Have you heard that Jesus died for YOU, that He was buried and ROSE AGAIN to release you from the bonds of sin and set you FREE from the law of sin and death? And that ALL THIS He did so He could walk with you, live in you, rescue you?

This is not cliche, it is TRUTH!!

Call me a crazy fundamental nutjob, or a pentecostal freak. You’re free to do that…

but please do not ignore His voice. He calls now; will you answer?

But this shall be the covenant that I will make with the house of Israel; After those days, saith the Lord, I will put my law in their inward parts, and write it in their hearts; and will be their God, and they shall be my people.

And they shall teach no more every man his neighbour, and every man his brother, saying, Know the Lord: for they shall all know me, from the least of them unto the greatest of them, saith the Lord: for I will forgive their iniquity, and I will remember their sin no more.       ~Jeremiah 31:33,34

Zealot

There’s no mistaking it: God loves a zealot. A real, off-the-beaten-path wacko.

John the Baptist, clothed in animal skins, wandering around the wilderness.
Saul of Tarsus, persecutor-at-large turned Paul the Apostle, author of over half the New Testament.
Peter, jumping out of boats and hacking people’s ears off.
Another Simon, “Simon the zealot,” was a disciple.

Just about all the OT prophets were zealots.
And there’s David, who danced in front of the Ark.
Jesus Himself:

“the zeal of the Lord hath eaten me up”

…wreaking holy havoc in the Temple…(but it was HIS HOUSE).

Chances are, if you aim to please God, He will give you plenty of opportunity to make yourself a fool in the eyes of men. You might be the one shouting a little louder, dancing a little wilder in His presence, and dressing a little stranger than the norm. If it is truly to His glory, there is nothing more beautiful. It’s the overflow of something built up, something utterly consuming inside. The presence of a Holy God that by necessity overwhelms His fleshly house and spills over. It’s messy, loud, and a little strange. But it’s the glory!

Lest I cause someone to stumble, let me clarify: this zeal was not a ploy to attract positive attention; it usually had the opposite effect, in fact. The attention gotten was rarely (if ever) positive, but a disruption to the atmosphere, a shaking-into-the-present of minds lulled to sleep by the rhythm of the day.

For seven days, during the Feast of Tabernacles, the people watched as priests poured water over the altar from the pool of Siloam and worshiped in ritual. On the last great day of the feast, as they gathered in solemn assembly, Jesus stood up at a climactic moment and disturbed the peace.

“Ho, every one that thirsteth come to me and drink!

He shouted. Total zealot.

“How dare he!” huffed the Pharisees, straightening miter and tallit and shooting him a withering look. Ironic, when they were the fig trees withering from the inside, whited sepulchres with no life within. “Disturbing our beautiful tradition!”

I do not advocate chaos–let all things be done decently and in order (1 Corinthians 14:40). But it is within the perfect order and design of God to fill us to overflowing with His presence. While the spiritual evidence is unmistakeable and demonstrative, the humanity is still humble and does not seek its own glory. This is the order He has chosen. Spiritual zeal, humble humanity.
When was the last time you were eaten up from the inside, so hungry and thirsty and desperate for Jesus that it didn’t matter how you looked, how loud you were, or who heard you?

“Deep calleth unto deep at the noise of thy waterspouts: all thy waves and thy billows are gone over me.”(Psalm 42:7)

Next time you find yourself quoting this, you can humbly blush to those around you, “Pardon my messy worship–that’s just my cup overflowing!”

..”be zealous therefore, and repent…” (Rev 3:19)

Planting the Word

Yay for Spring! I have dirt under my fingernails and I’m not sorry for it. 🙂

I love the thrill of a new shoot peeking upward, announcing its humble, miraculous presence. My daughter and I just planted bush beans last week, and now a few little pale proofs of life have pushed their way to the surface.

I’m pretty sure that each little plant has emerged because we put the seed there last week, and because we watered it. And I’m also thinking it will survive if we keep watering it and making sure it’s got enough light.

On that note…

The Word of God is spoken of as seed in the Gospels. In the lives of my children (cute little plots of earth), I am a sower. It is my crucial task to sow the seed of the Word of God into their hearts with fervor and care.

I try to care for the ‘soil,’ removing rocks and weeds (discipline), shooing away the fowls of the air (praying God’s protection for them, and shielding them as best I can from unGodly influence), and ensuring that the seeds fall on the dirt rather than the sidewalk (well-placed direction and criticism).

But I must remember that without the Seed, my fussing with the ‘soil’ is pointless.

It seems that most parents are very concerned about keeping the ‘soil’ tilled and weeded (keeping ‘bad influences’ out), but are often scant with the sowing (getting the good stuff IN). This is usually not intentional; most people are simply overwhelmed with the prospect of teaching their children the Scripture, especially when none of us are perfect.

For instance, It can feel a bit hypocritical teaching the following verse:

“He that is slow to anger is better than the mighty, and he that ruleth his spirit than he that taketh a city”(Prov 16:32)

…when I just bit someone’s head off. I say this from experience. Eek.

But let me encourage you (and myself, please): these flaws and faults confronted in Scripture offer perfect opportunities to show humility in the presence of our children. We all pale in comparison to the glorious standards set forth in the Bible; it’s OK to admit this to our children:

“We all need the grace of God, and we all are trying every day to be more like Jesus. This verse tells us how/why…”

So, back to the seed…If I don’t diligently sow, what will I do with an empty garden bed? Is it not effort wasted, weeding and watering nothing but dirt? Thinning the plants comes later (rightly dividing the word of truth), but there will be nothing to thin if I don’t liberally sow now.

How exactly do I do this, you ask?

In my next post, I will be addressing the practical side: How to begin planting the Word in a child’s heart. See you then! 🙂

 

When the sick do the carrying

bible_old_hands2[22]My grandmother, widowed mother of six boys, commuted to work daily in downtown Chicago until she was in her eighties. Grandpa had died when their youngest, my dad, was five years old.

A tenacious woman, she is remembered for her steel determination and faithfulness to God and His Word. She had no hobbies other than reading and studying the Bible. I remember her often humming old hymns, like “Leaning on the Everlasting Arms.”

All six of their boys became preachers of the Apostolic message. But as time passed, two sons found themselves outside the will of God. Whether it was personal offense or tragedy or temptation, I don’t know. But I do remember praying for uncle Lindy and uncle Billy from the moment I knew what it was to pray.

Well into her eighties, when she grew too old and ill to work any longer, it became necessary to sell the house in which she had raised her family. I still remember the screen door at the top of two well-worn concrete steps, the mint growing wild by the door, the vintage linoleum in the eat-in kitchen wherein lingered the wafting remnants of vitamins, nuts, and fried chicken. An old radio was always playing WMBI, Moody Bible Institute radio.

The whole house was scented by the treasured, leather-bound volumes left behind by Grandpa, which held their respected position in the front living room behind the protective glass panels of the old bookcase. Those commentaries and theological treatises were the glue that bound us together when seams were strained and the family fabric threadbare.

It was decided that the best place for Grandma was with Uncle Billy, who lived alone. Uncle Lindy, who never married, would quit his job as a truck driver to take care of her. The two prodigal sons were now entrusted with the care of their rigidly faithful mother, from whose lips a beloved Scripture or loving rebuke came often.

Grandma would never miss a church service. Uncle Lindy drove her to church in Harvey, where Reverend Terry Cox pastored. Lindy, guilty, tenderhearted and miserable, knew that if he spent too much time in the services, he would find himself at the altar. So he kept his distance as long as he could bear it. Uncle Billy would come on occasion with them, and both brothers found an occasional moment of repentance, but the change was never complete.

Then in June of 2004, Grandma died. Lindy, who had devoted his daily life to caring for his mother and now left with a great void, was most directly affected. The day of the funeral came, and for the first time in more than twenty years, all six brothers were in the same room.

Where differences and guilt had divided them, the passing of their mother united them. They talked and reminisced and laughed together. They sang beloved old songs, and ended in prayer, brothers praying for one another. Lindy and Billy were so moved by the presence of the Comforter who visited us that day that they both re-dedicated themselves to the Lord.

It has now been seven years, and Billy and Lindy have been faithful. Those who repeatedly had carried their ailing mother to the Lord had been themselves carried into His presence.

I have wondered about the four who carried their crippled friend to Jesus and let him down through the roof in Mark chapter 2. It is their faith that brought healing to their friend. Would they have been so adamant about seeing Jesus for themselves that day? The crowd was pressing, but the need of their friend overrode their difficulty.

What became of them? They were witness to one of the oft-recounted miracles Jesus performed.

Whatever their story might have been, the fact is that they encountered the Messiah that day because of a sick friend. My uncles both found Jesus again because of their ailing mother.

Many people have heard our story, and prayed for us as Wes endured brain surgery and its various complications. People we have never met–and still may never meet–have lifted us up.

I don’t presume to know the issues of all those who have prayed for us, but I do know God does nothing without purpose. And it isn’t the ‘main character’ alone who is suffering for a reason. The ‘supporting characters,’ the extras…they all matter, and they are all involved for a reason. There’s a reason each person who has heard about us has been exposed to our situation. God has been in it from the beginning, and His plan includes all the cast.

So, for all of you who have carried us to Jesus, I thank God for you. I pray His purpose finds you, and that you are closer today to Him than yesterday.

Whatever it is that brings us to our knees, I hope we are thankful to be found there, pliable in His hands, listening to His voice, and ready for the next step in His Way.

This is literally the best post ever. Literally.

I literally had to wait thousands of years in line…

The car behind me was literally up my tailpipe…

She literally hit the roof when that raccoon came parachuting into the living room…

One needs not ask the question, “Do you know someone who overuses the word, ‘literally’?” We all do. One Englerican (or Ameringlish) tendency is to mutate–or mutilate–a word’s definition and usage. I love words and their meanings–“Words mean something!” I often tell my husband.

To me, it’s abuse to use a word like “literally” out of context or loosely. He who uses such a word too liberally jeopardizes his credibility.

Dictionary.com defines “literal” (the adjective form of “literally”) as follows:

“in accordance with, involving, or being the primary or strict meaning of the word or words; not figurative or metaphorical: the literal meaning of a word.”

But if you google “define literally“, a second definition is given:

“Used for emphasis or to express strong feeling while not being literally true: – I have received literally thousands of letters”

Sigh. To what point has our language sunk, when a word becomes its own antonym? How is it that a word’s caricature is used as often as its original meaning?

With such treatment of this poor, defenseless word, it’s no surprise that it no longer carries its proper weight. For that matter, it seems few words have kept their intended meanings. I find this tragic.

Why is this? What are we trying to accomplish? Why do we think following word-trends displays a fresh, ‘hip’ persona? Do we not understand that doing so threatens to disembowel so many meaningful terms?

Do our words carry any value, or are they all up for personal interpretation? Is there no sacred standard by which to define them? If not, doesn’t all communication become vulnerable to this verbal cannibalization?

Let’s take a look at a well-known statement in a well-known Book:

“In the beginning God created the heaven and the earth.”

…is this literal? Or is it an ethereal, nebulous shell that you fill with your own marshmallowy meaning? Since the very word ‘literal’ no longer means what it should, I can really make of this statement whatever I want, and fit in convenient partial-truths (anti-truths?). For instance, ‘God’ really might be interpreted ‘enlightened essence’, and ‘created’ can now mean ‘developed’ or ‘evolved’….

…and down the slippery slope we slide. (say that ten times, really fast) 🙂

How about this one:

“Hear, O Israel: the LORD our God is one LORD.”

Okay, since literal’ is really not, maybe one’ here means three‘……or more.

See what I mean?

The question is (and here I arrive at the guts of this post), does God really intend for us to take Him seriously, literally, in the original sense of the word?

If so, then:

God did create the earth. Literally.

There is, and always has been, only one God. ONE. Literally.

He set in order a literal plan for mankind. Literally.

He came to us Himself, in flesh, literally.

He healed people and performed amazing miracles. Literally.

He (that is, His flesh) died a cruel, horrible death, without sin. Literally.

He resurrected after three days and nights. Literally.

He ascended into heaven, literally, offering His own blood once, for everyone. Literally.

He returned as promised to those who waited for Him and prepared their hearts to receive Him. Literally.

He filled–and still fills–people with His Spirit, giving them the Literal Evidence of His presence, of the adoption into His family.

The Promise of this adoption is for you and me. Literally.

Those who have received this literal adoption have literal hope for a literal heaven. Literally (I couldn’t resist).

For those who take Him at His Word, He rewards them. Literally. 🙂

Give Him a chance to prove Himself…what if He really does mean what He said, in all scripture? What impact would this have on your life? What literal changes do you need to make?

 

He speaks

Have you not known? Has it not been told you since the beginning?
Look around you…is there anything in creation like you?
Have you gotten so used to the miraculous that you discard it as common?

I have closed your ears to my Voice
And your eyes to my Face
Because when I did speak
You would not listen.

Wash yourself! Make yourself clean!
Put away the filthiness, the incessant consumption of vanity,
The weights and sins and things of the flesh
That are not of Me

I’ve told you the whole Story
You’ve heard it all
Yet you dismiss Me
And fill your life with emptiness instead.

For this, I will leave you empty
Frivolity does not fill a starving belly
Vanity does not satisfy the soul.

I, who speak in thunder from Sinai
And Fire on Carmel
Will not keep silent forever.

Return to me, beloved.

How often I long to wrap my everlasting arms around you
And hide you in the cleft of the Rock
And show you things you do not know!

If only you would seek Me.
My arm is not too short to save,
Nor is my ear deaf to your voice.

I am closer than you know,
Waiting for you to look up.
Urging you to listen
Speaking to you in stillness,
Leaving my mark on everything around you
Just to remind you
That I’m here.

That I long for you
Like a mother longs for her estranged child
Like a young widower pines for his wife

The feverish labor to heap to yourself material things
Will never satisfy.
One drink of Living Water will quench your thirst,
And give you Rest.

Come home
Draw near to me
While I may be found.