Wednesday, January 15, 2014

Why we homeschool

When my wife and I started this homeschooling journey 11-12 years ago, we started out with many "good" reasons for homeschooling our children, and I am thankful for them.  When considering homeschooling, I remember a pastor at the church we attended giving us some wisdom out of the Bible.  He said,  "If you want your children to become fools, let them spend most of their time with fools.  If you want your children to be wise, let them spend most of their time with wise people".  That made good sense to me, and it still does.  Also, since most of the people in this church were homeschooling, it made it easier for us to decide to homeschool.   Furthermore, since the public schools are a haven for foolishness, bad behavior, bullying, etc. we wanted to protect our children, shelter them, and provide a Christian worldview for them to follow.  We wanted to be able to influence them more than their peers and protect them from the public school agendas of evolutionism, gay rights, sex ed, etc. 

A few years later, our family joined a very traditional, “family-integrated” church group. Our reasons for homeschooling stayed the same in some ways, but we became more legalistic and behavior-focused.  We wanted our children to grow up to be "good" people, who attend a "good" church, find a "good" spouse, get a "good" job(only if they are men :) ), be good citizens, have many children, dress nice, and do all the things we thought were best for them. We wanted our children to stay true to the faith so we would look like great parents, and our children would turn out to be model Christians who dress, talk, and act like a Christian. We figured that by sheltering them and keeping out all evil influences, we could achieve this goal. Our goal was to only allow them to associate with others who were "like-minded".  We have since left that church and many of the ideals they represented.

What we have been considering lately is this:  Are these reasons for homeschooling enough?  What are the main reasons why we homeschool?

After looking at the first three websites that popped up on Google search, I am convinced that most people are excluding God and any spiritual reasons from their decision-making process. Although practical reasons are good, they are not enough.
Reasons to homeschool web site 1
Reasons to homeschool web site 2
Reasons to homeschool web site 3

My wife was looking at a facebook post the other day that asked for a vote on reasons for homeschooling. She was amazed that out of 120 responses, only two of them said that God had led them to homeschool.  Most of the responses involve some sort of a criticism of the public school system, and the need to protect their children from it.  Other responses involved the superior education their children were able to receive at home.

Even though I happen to agree with many of these good reasons for homeschooling, they aren't the primary goal any more for us.  If our goal is to shelter, protect, and produce good behaving people who are well-educated, we haven't really gained much.  Yes, good character and being different from the world is good, but why?  If that's all we have, we are only going to produce Pharisees who look down their noses at those who are different or don't measure up to their standards. 

Philippians 3:4-9
4 though I myself have reasons for such confidence. If someone else thinks they have reasons to put confidence in the flesh, I have more: 5 circumcised on the eighth day, of the people of Israel, of the tribe of Benjamin, a Hebrew of Hebrews; in regard to the law, a Pharisee; 6 as for zeal, persecuting the church; as for righteousness based on the law, faultless. 7 But whatever were gains to me I now consider loss for the sake of Christ. 8 What is more, I consider everything a loss because of the surpassing worth of knowing Christ Jesus my Lord, for whose sake I have lost all things. I consider them garbage, that I may gain Christ 9 and be found in him, not having a righteousness of my own that comes from the law, but that which is through faith in[a] Christ—the righteousness that comes from God on the basis of faith.

So, what is our goal now?  My wife wrote this last week, and I think it sums it up very well.

The world is and has been changing, the tide has/is turning….. It is time to rethink “Christianity” in our country. Who are we called to be? Why are we doing what we do as far as homeschooling/raising our children/discipling others?  Why has God called us to raise our children this way? Live this way?  Is it to protect? Shelter? NO! God is asking us to be and raise up a people that KNOW and LOVE Him in such a way that they will be able and willing to stand ALONE with Him in adverse circumstances. Yes, as Christians, we are a blessing to one another but the world needs Christians that won’t back down individually or in small groups, a people that don’t need or rely on a mediator and 100’s or even 1000’s of other likeminded people standing with them.  There is a time coming and has come in some countries, when there will no longer be the possibility of crowd following and still walking with God.  Our children and families may not have “beautiful” lives and futures by our homeschooling, “Christian” standards…they will need to have an intimate relationship with God to walk through adverse circumstances with Him. Our goal in homeschooling is not and cannot be to “protect, instill, groom, etc”. It is to raise up godly men and women that are willing to walk with God in a Holy Army that will require everything of them.

To summarize, we homeschool because we believe God has called us to raise our children up as disciples of Jesus:
1. We believe God has called us to this task of homeschooling(discipleship).
2. We want our children to know Jesus relationally, and love him with all their heart.
3. We want our children to love others and be a light to them, not judge them harshly.
4. We desire our children to have the ability to think for themselves so they won't follow the crowd.
5. We desire our children to be strong in the face of adversity, willing to follow God no matter what the cost.
6. We desire our children to be among those who do not love their lives even unto death.  Rev. 12

To wrap this up, let me share with you something I learned from watching the new Hobbit movie: The Desolation of Smaug.  In the movie, the wood elves are hearing reports about the evil rising in middle-earth.  They argue amongst themselves about whether they should just continue hiding in their safe place, ignore the suffering of others around them, and try to wait for the evil to pass.  Here is a quote.

Tauriel (female elf): When did we allow evil to become stronger than us?
Legolas (male elf): It is not our fight.
Tauriel (female elf): It is our fight.

Tauriel ends up defying the wishes of the leader of the elves(Thranduil), leaves the safety of their home, and helps those who need help.  First, by healing a dwarf, and second, by giving her assistance in the fight against evil.

I ask you this same question - When did we Christians allow evil to become stronger than us?

Sunday, December 1, 2013

A word of encouragement and Blessing to Homeschoolers

Word of Encouragement and Blessing to Homeschooling Mothers, Fathers, and Children

If Jesus were speaking directly to you right now, and he is speaking to you, he would say: 
Thank you for choosing the narrow path, the difficult way. It leads to abundant life, great blessing, and eternal benefits and rewards.  I have called you to a Holy, set apart lifestyle and you have responded.  I know the way is difficult and you feel like giving up sometimes.  Come to me when you feel worn-out, tired, burned-out, stressed out, and heavily laden with many burdens.  I will give you rest and life.  Resist the pull to compare yourself with others and look to the right or the left.  Re-focus your gaze and your heart upon me.  Remember that your main purpose in raising your children is to teach them to love me with all their hearts and to follow me.

Homeschooling Moms, the Father is so pleased with your love and care for his children. Nothing escapes the Father’s notice.  Your purpose and calling as a mother and teacher during this season is valuable and significant beyond what you can see with your limited perspective.  You have sacrificed much to make the decision and accept the call to train up your children in the way the Father has created them.  The Father is pleased with you and proud of you.  Don’t grow weary in doing good, continue to fight the good fight of faith and finish the race.  Strength, wisdom, and energy will fill you.  May an increase of love, purpose, and vision come upon you.  Moms, resist the lie that comes and tells you your task is without purpose or significance just because nobody seems to honor or recognize you.  The First will be Last, and the Last will be First in my kingdom.  You may appear to be Last according to the values system of this world, but in the Kingdom of Heaven, you are first because you are a loving servant.

                Homeschooling Dads, support and love your family in more ways than just financially.  Encourage your wife and children, be genuinely interested and engaged in their day.  Your interest and encouragement will help pull them through difficult seasons.  You have sacrificed much to be a homeschooling Father, and the Father notices.  He is pleased that you work hard to support your family in many ways.  Your words have life and can encourage your family to be the overcomers I have called them to be.  You, as a Father, have the power to call forth and encourage the identity of your wife and children.  Your example of hard work, servant-leadership, self-sacrifice, love, and courage sets the tone for your family.  Come to the Father for your true identity and vision, do not go to the world for identity and their standard of success.  You are a true son of God, now go and call forth your children as sons and daughters of God.  Teach them to love this world with my love, and train them for war to defeat the darkness.  I didn’t call you to homeschooling so that you and your family would hide from the world, but I called you to homeschooling so you can raise up world-changers who will carry my love to the lost sons and daughters.

                I declare over the children clear vision, ears to hear, and teachable, tender hearts.  Let them have open minds that listen to their mother and father’s wisdom.  Give the children the Father’s heart for this world and his love for people.  Let the spirit of rebellion over this generation be broken and not touch these children.  Let the children choose wisdom and life that leads to blessing.  Let the children really come to know God in a deeply personal way.  Let them resist the world, the flesh, and the devil.  Let them avoid the snares of the enemy and stay on the narrow road.  Let them learn to hear the voice of God and obey that voice.  Let the Holy Spirit fill them and flow through them.  Show them who you really are, Father, and show them what you have created and called them to do.  You children are precious to the Father, you are his beloved.  Come to the Father through me and you will know true life.

Monday, October 28, 2013

Cessationism is Dead!

Cessationism is on its way out, but those like John Macarthur with his "Strange Fire" conference, are still trying to beat this dead horse.  Here are a couple links I would like to share regarding this issue.

AW Tozer states the issue very clearly when he says in the article I have linked to below:

"it will be seen how empty and meaningless is the average church service today. All the means are in evidence; the one ominous weakness is the absence of the Spirit’s power. ... The power from on high is neither known nor desired by pastor or people. This is nothing less than tragic, and all the more so because it falls within the field of religion, where the eternal destinies of men are involved.
Fundamentalism has stood aloof from the liberal in self-conscious superiority and has on its own part fallen into error, the error of textualism, which is simply orthodoxy without the Holy Ghost. Everywhere among conservatives we find persons who are Bible-taught but not Spirit-taught. They conceive truth to be something which they can grasp with the mind."

An open letter to John Macarthur from A W Tozer

Michael Brown appeal to John Macarthur

Link to earlier article on our Blog - Cessationism is heresy

"John Macarthur's Strange Fire" - from Stephen Crosby

Monday, June 10, 2013

Lawyers or Lovers

Loved this Post by Steve Crosby.  Right along the lines of what God has shown us these past couple years.

Lawyers or Lovers

Friday, May 10, 2013

The Prophetic Lifestyle

A post by Brian Harrison prompted me to begin thinking about the apostolic nature of our lives, and what it means to speak apostolically.  What does the Apostolic look like?

Brian mentions 4 things that are characteristics of apostolic statements/actions.
1. It's Heavenly and not Earthly
2. it is corporate and not personal
3. It is sacrificial and not self-serving and therein emits the aroma of Christ.
4. It is authentic and not fabricated

I was reminded of the close tie between speaking/living  prophetically and speaking/living apostolically.  Just a couple days previous to reading this article by Brian, I had read the preview for a book at that talks about what it means to live prophetically.  I love the way this guy writes.  I had stumbled across his web-site when looking at the forum.

Let your Light Shine - Ray Ashmore

Here is the the Amazon description for the book:
Jesus is The Prophet. Every word that comes from His lips is prophetic. Every expression of His will is prophetic. Every work of His Spirit is prophetic. The Holy Spirit is the conveyer of truth to the church both in words and deeds; and the church is to be a picture of that very truth to its community and world. Prophecy is far more than words or visions. Prophecy is a life lived individually and in a gathered community that bears testimony to God and His redemptive work. Prophecy isn't restricted to the simple understanding of the prophetic ministry that most charismatics espouse. True prophecy always, without exception and in every way, lifts up Jesus Christ as Savior and Lord.

and a profound excerpt from the book:
"By extension, as we steep ourselves in the word of God, we learn from Him, grow in Him, and become truly prophetic. It's not that we will be prophets, but we become prophetic in our living. How does this take place? It takes place by the Holy Spirit as He transforms our lives into Christ's likeness. As we grow into His image, The Prophet Jesus grows in us. He is put on display through us. His words and thoughts are expressed by us. Our words reveal Him and our lives display Him. Our actions, the events in our lives, and our responses to them are all symbolic of Christ's life and His will for us. We are prophetic in the truest sense of the word."
This got me thinking about how our lifestyle as Christians is to let the Life, Love, and Character of Jesus flow out of us in such a way that we become a prophetic statement to the world.  We become a testimony of what God and his Kingdom is really like.  The advancement of his Kingdom depends upon us entering into union with Jesus and living the life of the Spirit.  This is what living a prophetic life is all about!  I had always thought of prophecy as being prophetic utterances - but this has opened my eyes to the fact that there is much more.  Prophetic utterances flow out of our union with Christ and getting a hold of his heart of Love.  They do not flow out of our intellect, they flow out of deep communion and identification with Jesus, by the Holy Spirit. 

Old Testament prophets did not just pronounce "Thus saith the Lord", their lives also became prophetic statements of the Heart of God for his people.  They did not just pronounce judgment, their lives became so filled with God's heart of Love, Mercy, and righteous anger it drove them to do some fairly interesting things that looked quite ridiculous.

One of the problems with many Christians is this: We have a tendency to Know a lot of stuff, Say a lot of stuff, but are can be very deficient in the area of Doing much of the stuff.  Jesus said that we would be able to Do the same works he did, even greater works.  It is not enough to know what to do, even to talk a lot about what to do.  When we become Doers of the Word, and not hearers only, we enter into the true prophetic lifestyle.

I also believe that this strong disparity between what we Christians preach and what we practice has made us an object of scorn and ridicule from the world's perspective, and not in a good way.  Listen to this comment by Steve Crosby he posted on Facebook.

Many of you are not going to like this post because of how "broad a generalization" it is. I don't care, so please don't respond to me about how "every one is not that way." I won't post your comments if you go down that road. I am not talking about the EXCEPTIONS here. I am talking about the NORM. I am talking about the PUBLIC PERCEPTION of Christians and Christianity. My wife has worked for Sta...rbucks for 8 years. Her UNEQUIVOCAL, NON-NEGOTIABLE, REAL LIFE EXPERIENCE (not phony baloney-Sunday-morning-Wayne's world of Christianity) is that the customers who are the most vocal about their "Christianity," who come in for their "Bible studies," and their "fellowship groups," who "pass our their gospel tracts," are the nastiest, rudest, most inconsiderate, demanding, selfish, impolite, cheap, self-centered, and unthankful of all her customers. Nothing hinders the cause of Christ more than . . . "Christians." I understand why our culture despises "Christians and Christianity." I do too. I don't even use those terms any more when describing myself. They are hopelessly contaminated in the minds of the world. Lord, please deliver the world from your "followers."

I realized that if we focused more on letting our lives be so consumed with Jesus and his love, we would present a much different testimony to the world - the testimony of Jesus, the true spirit of Prophecy.  Didn't Jesus say they will know we are Christians by our love for one another?  They will not know we are Christians by our doctrines, how well we know our Bible intellectually, our ascetic lifestyle, faithful church attendance, good preaching, cutting-edge worship, or hyper-spiritual experiences.  They will know we are Christians by our LOVE. 

Sometimes, the Love of Jesus within us will compel us to say things that will offend people, but they will know we are speaking from Love - not self-interest, self-righteousness, or condemnation.  They may hate us, reject us, and kill us - but let it not be because we were too Religious.  Let it be because of our identification with Jesus Christ.  Let it be because "the" prophet Jesus is speaking through our life.

Monday, May 6, 2013

Don't forget what you look like!

Why do we believers sometimes do the things we don't want to do?  Why do our children disobey us when they know better, even though we have taught them and trained them to do right?  When they get around other children and act like fools, we as parents sometimes ask: Why?  And then, why do we sometimes start to think we are bad parents because our children are disobedient?  The list could go on and on. 

When I was praying about this the other day, I realized that one of the roots goes back to forgetting who we are in Christ.

James 1:22-25
22 Do not merely listen to the word, and so deceive yourselves. Do what it says. 23 Anyone who listens to the word but does not do what it says is like someone who looks at his face in a mirror 24 and, after looking at himself, goes away and immediately forgets what he looks like. 25 But whoever looks intently into the perfect law that gives freedom, and continues in it—not forgetting what they have heard, but doing it—they will be blessed in what they do.

2 Cor. 3:18
18 And we all, who with unveiled faces contemplate[a] the Lord’s glory, are being transformed into his image with ever-increasing glory, which comes from the Lord, who is the Spirit.
a. Or reflect

When we behold Christ in prayer - we are actually reflecting the Lord's glory, and being transformed into his image.  That means the glory of the Lord is in us and reflects from us!

When we start to get our identity from what anyone else says about us, or from what the enemy says about us - we have forgotten who we are in Christ.  When we allow others to tell us who we are instead of God, we have forgotten what we look like and have just raised them above what God says about us.  When we make what someone else, our self, or the enemy says about us more important than what God says about us, it is a form of idolatry!  Only God has the legitimate right to tell you who you are!

Here is what you look like in Christ.
1. God's dearly-loved child
2. Perfect, Righteous, Holy, Pure, spotless
3. A child of light, not a child of darkness
4. The light of the world
5. Inheritors of all God's great and precious promises
6. A new creation
7. Full of power and love from the Spirit of God
8. Overcoming, overwhelmingly-conquering saints
9. Blessed with abundance beyond compare.  Filled with life to the full and overflowing.

I believe the root of sin is forgetting who we are in Christ.  When we forget who we are in him, we begin to separate from him and function from the flesh.  When we know deep within who we are, we will not act independently of him. 

Along with Adam and Eve, Jesus faced the same temptations we do from the enemy and from others. For Adam and Eve, the temptations from the Devil were not only to get them to doubt God's nature and character, but to get them to believe Lies about themselves.  In Jesus' Temptation, notice the words Satan used in Matthew 4:3 & 6. "If you are the Son of God" The Devil wanted Jesus to take a shortcut and function independently of his nature and identity.  He wanted Jesus to function independently from God as his Father, and his identity as the Son of God to make things happen prematurely and illegally.

When other people wanted to make Jesus their King prematurely, he would have no part of that either.  The opinions of the masses did not sway him from who he was and what he was called to accomplish.

When we are secure in our identity, traps like shortcuts, sin, pride, and what others think about us will have no root.

Monday, April 1, 2013

Barriers to God's Love

In pondering our earlier Post, the Significance of God's Love, I was thinking about things that can hinder us from expressing God's love.  What keeps us from really moving out in faith to love our families, our neighbors, and our brothers and sisters in Christ?

1. Ruts
One of the major barriers I see in my own life is the tendency to fall into a Rut.  It is entirely possible to lock ourselves into a mindset that never looks outside our daily routine.  Even seemingly good, religious activities can become a rut that prevent us from seeing what God is doing and keep us from seeing the real needs of those around us.  If my goal is to get to the "church meeting" on time, why would I stop to help my neighbor?  In the parable of the Good Samaritan Luke 10:25-37, isn't it interesting that it was the "professional" religious men who passed by the hurt man.  I assume they were too busy and stuck in their "rut" to allow themselves to feel compassion on him.  They allowed what they deemed good, getting to their destination on time, to get in the way of seeing from God's heart of love and compassion.

We Christians need to learn to slow down, relax, and just love the people right in front of us. "Stop for the One" as Heidi Baker says.  Instead of getting grand ideas about doing big things for God, if we could just get in touch with God's heart and then crawl out of our rut long enough to see a need and "stop for the one" right in front of us, we will be the ones Jesus works through to change the world "with" him instead of "for" him.

In church meetings, even in so-called Charismatic churches, ruts often keep God locked up.  He is "in" us, but he desires to get out.  We can assume that the order of service is to be followed, but miss the real needs and what God is doing. Our rut keeps us from ever expecting anything different, it keeps us from seeing the real needs around us, and it limits our faith.

Order of service in a Charismatic Church: Pray, worship, preach 5-15 mins about giving financially, take an offering, worship some more, preach again, alter call with musical accompaniment, done.
Order of service in a traditional church: All stand, sing Hymn 596, All Sit down, sing Hymn 278, All stand up, repeat Lord's Prayer, Pastor Prays, take an offering, scripture reading, All sit down, preach, most people fall asleep, Sermon complete, most people wake up, all stand up, sing Hymn 193, done. 

2. Wrong Judgments about others
Another barrier I see is the tendency to lock ourselves and others into an imaginary rut through critical, negative thought patterns.  The tendency can be to look at ourselves and others based on past experience instead of peering prophetically into truth by faith.  If we look only at what lies on the surface, we fail to see the beauty and potential that may lie beneath.  Only when we see as God sees can we really love.    Could this be why the words "Faith, Hope, and Love" are tied to each other.  A hopeless, faithless perspective is an unloving perspective.  Of course, seeing sin as wrong does not preclude faith and hope.  Truth and Love are also tied to each other very closely and cannot be separated from one another.  John 1:14  To see truthfully is also to see lovingly and with a grace-centered perspective.  To see with all of these(Faith, Hope, Love, and Truth) is to see from God's perspective instead of a fleshly perspective.

 1 Cor 1:27  Jesus chose disciples who were the most unlikely to be world changers, but he also saw their potential.  God rescued and saved many of us, also the most unlikely to amount to anything from the world's perspective.  We need to be careful to see others by the Spirit and discern by the Spirit.  If we make wrong judgments, we will miss what God is doing and operate in unbelief.
Personal Examples
These are things I noticed in my own life when pondering this issue.  I realized I had some repenting to do and a need to allow God to deliver me from my "rut". 
1.  Judging others outwardly or from past experience:  I often pass by co-workers several times a day,  some of them I have known for years, but rarely assume they might have needs or may have an interest in God so I mostly ignore them and expect nothing.
2.  Daily Routine, busyness:  We eat at approx. the same time each day, do our chores, and I put my children to bed at about the same time every night, anything that strays out of the routine is often seen as a hindrance.
3.  Compartmentalizing God:  I get up and spend some time with God in the morning, maybe read my bible or a devotional,  maybe worship and listen for his voice, but many times don't consult him about throughout the day or remain sensitive to his presence, love, or inward voice.
4. Separating Sacred from Secular.  Seeing religious activities as Sacred, and all else as worldly or unimportant.  Therefore, not seeking God unless the activities are seen as sacred or religious.

I realized this tendency toward "ruttishness" and religiousness was a generational sin that needed to be broken. If we come out of agreement with these ruts and wrong perspectives, and come into agreement with God's perspective of love and freedom, they lose power over us.

3. Wrong judgments about God
When we really get to know what God is like, and we know experientially and by faith how much he loves us, we will be free to love others in the same way. The more we comprehend the love of God, the more we will desire to love people in the same way. If we view God as distant, mean-spirited, out to get us, and waiting to catch us in an act of sin so he can strike us dead and throw us into hell, we will certainly not treat others with a loving spirit. If we see God as our best friend, close to us, for us and not against us, bearing our burdens, ever-present, kind, compassionate, forgiving, fun-loving, etc, we will become like him. As we behold God, we will become like how we view him. That is why it is critical to have an accurate picture of who God really is and how he relates to us.
2 Cor. 3:18 He does not relate to us like he did to those under the old Covenant so we do not need to relate to him out of fear and condemnation. We relate to him on the basis of the new covenant he has made with us through Jesus, we are Righteous and Holy, fearless, his beloved children, and his close friends. 2 Cor 3:7-9