Peace From Above

There is a situation I’ve recently been working through, and I opted to speak to just a couple of people about it. One mature Christian did not say one way or the other what she thought, but left me with a piece of advice that when you are unsure–don’t. She also reminded me that we would know when we had God’s answer.

The nature of this issue couldn’t be left to unknowns, so my husband and I worked through it in detail. It is amazing that even when no one you know agrees with you, when God leads, you can have peace. And we do.

I am seeing that the most important thing we can teach our children as Christians is to live to please God while striving to keep peace with those around us as much as possible. We live in a world of compromise and human wisdom. A world that doesn’t want to offend other people, even if it means offending God. As things get more wicked, however, our kids need to see us stand strong for the truth. We can pretend that going along to get along will woo people to Christ, but it doesn’t. The world needs something very different from what it already has. Sometimes our own conscious needs to reign and protecting our kids’ conscious needs to be of great importance. Often we focus so much on the lost around us, especially those in our family, that we make poor decisions when it comes to our own family. It is a difficult dance to perform.

If done thoughtfully and with love, it is not wrong to make decisions that hurt people, especially when it means pleasing the Lord. How can we, as representatives of Christ, sit quietly by in support during an event that pointedly blasphemes Christ, the Holy Spirit, and lies about how we are reconciled to God? It is one thing when you go in to a situation unaware of exactly what takes place; it is entirely different when you know. When something makes you sick to think about, take time to wait on the Lord, and be careful who you ask advice from.

One of the best aspects of aging is getting to a point of not trying to convince those around you of how you are living your life for Christ. I look forward to fully getting to that place. It is getting better all the time, but I know it will get even easier.

Be convinced in your own mind and act, taking time to explain to your children because the days are evil.

~Ann

Matthew 7:1-23 NASB

Encouraging words to live biblically, even if you are the only one or of a small few. It is freeing to not need the approval of other people. The older I get, the more situations arise where it is clear that if someone hasn’t actually experienced much of what we have, they cannot see things from our perspective. Ideally, everyone realizes that and it helps us all be slower to criticize.
Seek God’s approval first, err on the Lord’s side, and He will go before you. I’m asking Him to fight my battles…
For good teaching, consider http://www.gty.org. A man gifted to exhort–John MacArthur.
~Ann
New American Standard Bible
Judging Others

1“Do not judge so that you will not be judged. 2“For in the way you judge, you will be judged; and by your standard of measure, it will be measured to you. 3“Why do you look at the speck that is in your brother’s eye, but do not notice the log that is in your own eye? 4“Or how can you say to your brother, ‘Let me take the speck out of your eye,’ and behold, the log is in your own eye? 5“You hypocrite, first take the log out of your own eye, and then you will see clearly to take the speck out of your brother’s eye.      6“Do not give what is holy to dogs, and do not throw your pearls before swine, or they will trample them under their feet, and turn and tear you to pieces.

Prayer and the Golden Rule

7“Ask, and it will be given to you; seek, and you will find; knock, and it will be opened to you. 8“For everyone who asks receives, and he who seeks finds, and to him who knocks it will be opened. 9“Or what man is there among you who, when his son asks for a loaf, will give him a stone? 10“Or if he asks for a fish, he will not give him a snake, will he? 11“If you then, being evil, know how to give good gifts to your children, how much more will your Father who is in heaven give what is good to those who ask Him!

12“In everything, therefore, treat people the same way you want them to treat you, for this is the Law and the Prophets.

 

The Narrow and Wide Gates

13“Enter through the narrow gate; for the gate is wide and the way is broad that leads to destruction, and there are many who enter through it. 14“For the gate is small and the way is narrow that leads to life, and there are few who find it.

 

A Tree and Its Fruit

15“Beware of the false prophets, who come to you in sheep’s clothing, but inwardly are ravenous wolves. 16“You will know them by their fruits. Grapes are not gathered from thorn bushes nor figs from thistles, are they? 17“So every good tree bears good fruit, but the bad tree bears bad fruit. 18“A good tree cannot produce bad fruit, nor can a bad tree produce good fruit. 19“Every tree that does not bear good fruit is cut down and thrown into the fire. 20“So then, you will know them by their fruits.

21“Not everyone who says to Me, ‘Lord, Lord,’ will enter the kingdom of heaven, but he who does the will of My Father who is in heaven will enter. 22“Many will say to Me on that day, ‘Lord, Lord, did we not prophesy in Your name, and in Your name cast out demons, and in Your name perform many miracles?’ 23“And then I will declare to them, ‘I never knew you; DEPART FROM ME, YOU WHO PRACTICE LAWLESSNESS.’

Matt 7:1-23

Friendship

I’ve realized friendship is a luxury some cannot afford. It takes time and regular effort. Those in full-time ministry are so focused on what their mission for the Lord is, their friends are usually their husbands and co-laborers. The last ten years has changed my perspective and need in this area greatly. It hasn’t been without pain, but time has had a way of showing me that we all go through seasons.

There can be years where we are a friend to those who need it, giving more than is received. Then there are times we receive while others give to us. There are times we would prefer to be alone than continue doing the work, and there are times we do the work we can, but it really doesn’t amount to much.

I remember being so insecure as a younger woman; I wore my number of close friends as a means of significance. It seemed to me that those around me would see my worth if there were many people I knew well and who knew me well.

But that is just a foolish endeavor that ends up taking too much time from the areas God has placed before us.This realization is one reason I would never want to be younger than I am again.

Friends come and go–jobs change, people move, people die, people change. If we are moving continually closer to God, the only way friendships can remain in the same way is if everyone is moving along at roughly the same pace. The intimacy in family relationships follows this same logic.

In evaluating our lives to see where we are with the Lord, it is one of the things we often find ourselves needing to cull. He provides the strength, and it allows us to teach our children to let no one and nothing stand between us and our Savoir.

Even when people love each other, this is how it often goes.

~Ann

The Great Outdoors

We enjoyed a beautiful hike yesterday after our usual Saturday morning cleaning and soccer.

I’m so excited to have found a new place to kayak. I hope to try it out later this week as part of a gift to my daughter.

Equally exciting were the well-placed tree ID signs, reminding me fondly of Dendrology in college. I really miss some of the things I studied at times, and have sometimes wished God would call us to minister back in our college town. There is a lot to love about the area, and it would be nice to do the same hikes and go camping with my kids there. I love the campus too, and that just translates to the student body there. It would be nice to reach kids at that critical time in life. It meant so much to me to have godly people help me during those years of transition from someone lost to someone redeemed.

I am blessed to have been given a child that loves many things I always have. Now that she is older, it seems there will be a space for some things I’ve wanted to do for a while.

Here are a few pictures of our day.

I want to plant one of these in my backyard as an understory specimen, so it was nice to show it to the family.

P1150384P1150386P1150387Water for fishing and water activitiesP1150394Little camping cabins if you’d rather not use a tent.P1150381

Family Routines

There is something connecting about having regular Family Nights. I didn’t understand the value in them when we started our Friday night pizza night; the kids were quite young. Thankfully my husband understood and thus began the W family Friday Night Family Night. The kids do not like to miss it, though sometimes we have their friends join in. It is the one night we watch something together and we have special beverages: bought soda, iced tea, fresh lemonade, or homemade soda. It is a time to make sure the five of us are together relaxing and recapping our week or just that day. Friday’s are our lighter school day since stopping CC, and this family time is essential. One thing I’ve observed and have not liked is how busy homeschooling life can be.  It seems the families we used to spend time with really grew apart as the kids reached middle school and high school, with everyone going in a different direction. If we aren’t purposeful in how we spend time with our kids, we can end up like so many families we all see around us: the kids really are not close to one another and the family unit is not that important as high school approaches.

I’ve had parents tell me, for years, ‘Just wait until your child reaches ____ age’. This was in reference to how they will be obsessed with certain music and musical bands, or how they will want to be with friends all the time. I had my doubts, but kept it in mind. This began back when my oldest was in 6th grade. It came from people I knew well and whose family life I didn’t want to emulate exactly, even though we did spend a lot of time together and educated in a similar fashion. Here we are two years later, and what I have seen is that what parents expect is often what happens. How we encourage our kids to spend time, and the values we demonstrate, will be played out in their lives.

For some, being influenced by others and spending very little time together as ‘just us’ (meaning the core family) feels very fulfilling. It embraces the goals of the parents, and time with ‘just us’ feels empty. For others, the family unit and family values are what are tantamount. Other people joining the fold happens rarely. I think both approaches have their good and bad points. The main thing is to realize how you are living will impact your kids later, particularly the teen years. It is a shame to see parents lament that their kids never want to be home, and yet, they’ve always encourage a more outward/others focus.

Personalities surely come in to play, with everyone involved :).

~Ann

Difficult Times Will Come

2 Timothy 3
New American Standard Bible

“Difficult Times Will Come”

1But realize this, that in the last days difficult times will come. 2For men will be lovers of self, lovers of money, boastful, arrogant, revilers, disobedient to parents, ungrateful, unholy, 3unloving, irreconcilable, malicious gossips, without self-control, brutal, haters of good, 4treacherous, reckless, conceited, lovers of pleasure rather than lovers of God, 5holding to a form of godliness, although they have denied its power; Avoid such men as these. 6For among them are those who enter into households and captivate weak women weighed down with sins, led on by various impulses, 7always learning and never able to come to the knowledge of the truth.

The verses that have inspired me to write tonight are to be found in 2 Timothy 3:5-7: Holding to a form of godliness, although they have denied its power.…so many today find ‘power’ in many things that are not godly. In this era of the Internet, everyone writing is a self-proclaimed expert on this remedy or that formula. Mysticism has crept in to the church in various forms to the point people find themselves worrying about missing ‘this’ secret cure or ‘that’ key to why life is out of control. Many women are drawn in to this, and without discernment, the waters of godliness can quickly become murky. Are we sure we can determine what is a ‘form’ of godliness vs. true godliness? I can assure you of this, being convinced of something isn’t necessarily the way to tell, nor is having a ‘personal conviction’.

 

It was not long ago I asked my husband, who God has graciously given the gifts of wisdom and discernment to, about whether people can have false ‘personal convictions’. He seemed a tad surprised at my asking, immediately responding that yes, of course, and that is how most cults begin–a false personal conviction. That gave me pause, and made sense. We need God’s word to guide and direct us.
Part 2:

 

“weak women captivated, always learning but never coming to the knowledge of truth”…this is my loose paraphrase but it encompasses what I long to warn Christian women about. We are often weak minded. We are easily led astray. Psychological reasoning resonates with us and we justify sometimes questionable ideas because part of it may make good, common sense. We women often lack the logical side of thinking, and if we are extroverted, we do not deeply think enough, seeking the truth from God’s word. I’m not down on women: I am one and I’m raising two. But I see what the gentler sex struggles with and the older I get the pattern has not changed, especially with young women. I’m also not down on extroverts, but the reality is that introverts are the deeper thinkers among us. What appeals to us is often an exercise in futility. It is not men of homeschooling wives who spend hoards of hours pouring over various methods of education and various curricula for YEARS on end (and I mean literal years), debating, questioning, critiquing…it is women, and usually those that can talk for days about such things struggle to actually “come to the knowledge of the truth” on the matter. They can pontificate all day and all year long, but they cannot effectively execute educating their children.

 

This personality trait is a constant with other areas of life as well. It is a profound spinning of wheels and an overall sense of there being something out there that could be THE key. It is a way of thinking and looking at the world, which I’ve mainly seen women fall in to but men are by no means immune, where there is no true rest. Their is almost a paranoia and a general mistrust of ‘the establishment’…whatever the current craze is. It doesn’t really matter what the current obsession is, the personality trait is one that doubts, raises questions, and just is not effective at actually living life and being consistent. For those who are not discerning, these people can cause others to become like them–focusing on things that are not glorifying God, but cast doubt and cause too much worry over this temporal life. This notion is one reason I was careful about who I recommended certain alternative health treatment options to. A weak minded person can easily become too concerned over all the things there are to be allergic to. I had to fight it greatly and were it not for my husband, am certain I would have gone too far with it. It is not hard to lose sight of the fact this is a fallen world, we and our children will have disease, and while there may be a cure or remedy SOMEWHERE to be found, it simply may not be God’s will for us to find it or have it. There is a surrendering to His service that can only allow so much time to go in to our personal well-being. Is it any Christian’s calling to spend the majority of their personal time and/or energy studying something that is not directly related to spreading the gospel, discipling one’s children, or growing in holiness? I think that is something for us to each evaluate.

 

In closing, please be wise and careful with who you get advice from and who you spend a lot of time with. Sincerity and a sweet voice or disposition often draw women into another woman’s confidence, but those are not traits of godliness or wise sincerity. For a long time I thought they were, then I realized different people have different vocal chords, and southern people can naturally sound as adorable as the day is long. :) These things are no indication of holiness.

 

Thanks for reading,

 

Ann
an expert at very little if anything, humbled by how convicted I was about so many things as a 20 and 30 something….