The Church at home

 

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I have been out of practice in having a quiet time.

I have 4 children, and there is very little time in the day where someone isn’t awake needing something. I hit the ground running in the morning, and I’m emotionally drained at the end of the day. When the 6 month old is finally asleep at the end of the night, I am reluctant to go to bed (even though I’m exhausted) because I’d like to spend some time to myself. This is not a complaint, just a reality.

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My mother recently told me about a devotional she’s been doing, and I decided to try it out. It doesn’t take a lot of time, and I’m in desperate need of that well that doesn’t run dry. Two days ago I tried it and I felt nothing. Yesterday I cried because I realized what I have been missing for a while. Today I had a revelation.

Today was different. I woke up this morning and thought, I’m not going to get a few minutes alone. So far that’s been true; I haven’t. BUT. I sat down anyway with the devotional on my phone app, and decided to read it out loud to the kids. They may not be able to understand all of it, but they don’t understand everything being taught from the pulpit on Sunday mornings at our family integrated church either. I knew I needed to spend the time with God and if it had to be with the kids so be it. I’m so glad I got through it.

This devotional is set up very much like a contemporary church service. It starts with a song, continues with the Word, gives some guided prayer, has a motivational conclusion, and takes maybe 15 minutes to complete. For a busy mom, short and sweet with something to leave me thinking on for the rest of the day is perfect.

On an ideal day, after I’ve served the kids their breakfast, and everyone has gotten dressed, we will do a morning basket. We start with prayer, reading a portion of Scripture, learn a hymn, and read some books on different topics.

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However, as I shared this devotional with my family, it dawned on me that this is what I should be doing daily with them. Not the devotional itself, but church. Somehow I hadn’t equated morning time with church at home. I equated it with school. But as a Christian mom and homeschool mom, my home and my school are my daily church. I’m a director of sorts, and the children are the congregation.

As a teacher it is my responsibility to teach them subjects, as a mom I need to teach my kids how to tie their shoes, and how to have good manners, but most importantly as a Christian, my children are my disciples. They will learn from me, good or bad, who Jesus is, theology, and whether or not those things are important. I am the assistant pastor of our home. My home is a mini church where I train my children during the week to participate in a larger service on Sundays. My family is a mini community where I train my children to be part of a much larger community locally and worldwide, and that they should love each other because they are each others neighbor.

In viewing my home and family this way, I am also challenged in my thoughts an attitudes as a mother, teacher, and missionary to my family.

FYI, I’ve had the Caedmon’s Call station running on Pandora all morning as a result of my revelation.

Psalm 34:1 ESV I will bless the Lord at all times; his praise shall be continually in my mouth.

1 Thessalonians 5:16-18 Rejoice always, pray without ceasing, give thanks in all circumstances; for this is the will of God in Christ Jesus for you.

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my end of summer reading list

I’m not going to lie. A lot of this is going to seem pretty boring to most folks. I am on a non-fiction christian book kick. I will do my best to add a brief description of subject matter. I will also be adding books I have read and completed thus far over the summer.

Three Decades of Fertility: Ten Ordinary Women Surrender to the Creator and Embrace Life (Kindle) read

Ten women share their stories of childbearing and being mothers over the course of three decades, from their 20’s – 40’s. I gained a lot of wisdom from this book. These ladies reminded me of my mom and I felt as though I were being taught by true Titus 2 women.

Diapers, Dishes, and Dominion: How Christian Housewives can change the World by Leah D. Smith (Paperback) read

Leah covers a variety of topics from gender rolls, to child-rearing, to government, to eschatology. I found myself either nodding in agreement or being wowed by insights I had never considered before, yet made perfect sense. This was just the right book for just the right time in my life – a mom with young children, preparing them to enter their practical and spiritual educations. This book was a gift to me, and I wish I could gift it to every woman I know. A true treasure for those who are wondering what in the world they are doing as a mother.

Born-Again Dirt: Farming to the Glory of God by Noah Sanders (Paperback) currently reading

Great read so far. Another gift from a friend. The author makes a case for what the Bible has to say about farming. Put into practice, farming according to the Word will look different to different people in different regions, but the principles are the same – take dominion of the earth, and animals, take care of others, and have a godly business ethic.

Paradise Restored by David Chilton (Hardcover) currently reading

I have only gotten a couple of pages in so I haven’t formed a whole lot of opinions. I am reading this because I have lately become curious about the Postmillennial Eschatology. This book supposedly gives solid scriptural evidence for an eschatology of hope. So far the idea makes sense to me, that if Jesus finished His work of defeating sin and death on the Cross, that sin and death no longer have power over the Christian, and not just the Christian, the earth as well. “The earth is the Lords and the fullness thereof, the world and those who dwell therein.” Postmillennialism was the dominant eschatological view of the Church up until WWI. However, contrary to an eschatology of hope, there now reigns in Christianity an eschatology of fear. That is: Antichrist is coming, Satan is winning, this world is going to hell in a hand basket until Christ’s return, and there is nothing you can do about it.

Looking forward to this read a lot.

Family UNplanning by Craig Houghton (Kindle)

Point of interest for me. Sometimes it’s nice to just have a little encouragement when you feel like  the minority.

Fully Alive: A Biblical Vision of Gender that Frees Men and Women to Live Beyond Stereotypes by Larry Crabb (Kindle)

This is also a point of interest for me and as I’m going to blog on gender roles (at some point) thought this book came across my eyes fortuitously. I would probably not read or purchase this book normally, but Kindle was offering it for free yesterday so I figured why not. Don’t know if I will agree with it or not, but maybe there is something to be gleaned. 

Shepherding a Child’s Heart by Tedd Tripp (Kindle)

I asked my facebook community to offer some book recommendations on parenting and this book came recommended by a few women who’s parenting I respect, and also I was warned that his books did more harm that good to one father’s parenting. I think I’m a good judge of things I should and should not believe in, so I expect there will be things I will take away as helpful and other things I will disregard. That’s just how I roll.

Thats it for now. I have a few more on my Kindle that I want to read, but we’ll see how I do with these. I will update either in September or when I’m done – whichever comes first.

a dominion attitude.

I have been thinking a lot about dominion, and the way Christians should view it. Dominion applies to so many areas of life, and it feels like a pretty daunting  idea to tackle. In fact, most of my conclusions and convictions on it are only just recently being fleshed out. I’m very excited about it, which is why I want to share my discoveries, but at the same time my mind is exploding with the possibilities and responsibilities that come along with it.

Dominion does not extend only to the earth, but to all of creation. If you think about all of creation then you must include mankind: families, the church, the homeless, orphans, widows, the unborn, unbelievers, and [place your demographic here]. You must include the behavior of mankind, and the effect of Christianity upon it – government, media, the education system, the church, humanitarian causes, etc.

Are we as Christians loving the Lord our God with all our hearts, all our souls, and with all our minds? Because the Bible teaches that this is the first and great commandment. I don’t mean love as a mushy-gushy, ooey-gooey, Jesus-is-my-boyfriend feeling. I mean love as an action, love as a hard choice you make, love as defined by the Bible.

1 Chorinthians 13 describes love in this way:

  • If I have not love I am a noisy gong or clanging cymbal. (just a lot of annoying noise)
  • If I have not love I am nothing
  • If I have not love I gain nothing
  • Love is patient and kind
  • Love does not envy or boast
  • Love is not arrogant or rude
  • Love does not insist on its own way
  • Love is not irritable or resentful
  • Love does not rejoice in wrongdoing, but rejoices in the truth
  • Love bears all things
  • Love believes all things
  • Love hopes all things
  • Love endures all things

Are God’s law, commandments, and His will more important to us than the opinions of the pagan culture or our own desires? What is our attitude toward Him when His ways are contrary to what feels comfortable to us? What are our actions when His commands don’t coincide with our lifestyle?

Are we seeking God’s will in every area of our lives? Or are we relying on Dr. Phil, the medical community, the food industry, pharmaceutical companies, popular nutrition, the opinions of our friends, the news, etc. to tell us the best advice, choices, decisions for our lives?

Really think about this.

It is easy to be flippant without intending to be.

1 Corinthians 16:19-20 (ESV)
“Or do you not know that your body is a temple of the Holy Spirit within you, whom you have from God? You are not your own, for you were bought with a price. So glorify God in your body.”

1 Corinthians 10:31 (ESV)
“So, whether you eat or drink, or whatever you do, do all to the glory of God.”

Romans 12:1-2 (ESV)
“I appeal to you therefore, brothers, by the mercies of God, to present your bodies as a living sacrifice, holy and acceptable to God, which is your spiritual worship. Do not be conformed to this world, but be transformed by the renewal of your mind, that by testing you may discern what is the will of God, what is good and acceptable and perfect.”

According to these verses (not my own words), we as Christians are vehicles of the Holy Spirit. We are carrying God’s spirit around inside of us wherever we go!

Ahhhh!!!

We are not, as the culture tells us, our own person. Nay, we belong to Christ and were bought at a very high price. That price was the death of a perfect, innocent, sinless life. Are we glorifying God in our bodies, presenting them as sacrifices to God? Are we being transformed by the renewal of our minds, subjecting them to Christ? Or are we following our own pursuits and inviting God to sit shotgun?

We are not owners. We are stewards. Everything we have in the world is on loan. Lets take care of our lives, our time, our money, our families, homes, yards, etc. as though these are God’s possessions. As God’s possessions we should be seeking how God requires us to treat His things. He gave us an Owner’s manual called the Bible with strict and loose instructions on how to do just that. We need to be good investors in His Kingdom. If God lent it to you, take care of it like He wants you to. You may not be able to take it with you to heaven, but you are responsible for it for as long as you do have it. Treat it well.

Jesus told this parable:

Matthew 25:14-30  (ESV)

The Parable of the Talents

 “For it will be like a man going on a journey, who called his servants and entrusted to them his property. To one he gave five talents, to another two, to another one, to each according to his ability. Then he went away.  He who had received the five talents went at once and traded with them, and he made five talents more. So also he who had the two talents made two talents more. But he who had received the one talent went and dug in the ground and hid his master’s money. Now after a long time the master of those servants came and settled accounts with them.  And he who had received the five talents came forward, bringing five talents more, saying, ‘Master, you delivered to me five talents; here I have made five talents more.’  His master said to him, ‘Well done, good and faithful servant. You have been faithful over a little; I will set you over much. Enter into the joy of your master.’  And he also who had the two talents came forward, saying, ‘Master, you delivered to me two talents; here I have made two talents more.’  His master said to him, ‘Well done, good and faithful servant. You have been faithful over a little; I will set you over much. Enter into the joy of your master.’  He also who had received the one talent came forward, saying, ‘Master, I knew you to be a hard man, reaping where you did not sow, and gathering where you scattered no seed, so I was afraid, and I went and hid your talent in the ground. Here you have what is yours.’ But his master answered him, ‘You wicked and slothful servant! You knew that I reap where I have not sown and gather where I scattered no seed? Then you ought to have invested my money with the bankers, and at my coming I should have received what was my own with interest.  So take the talent from him and give it to him who has the ten talents.  For to everyone who has will more be given, and he will have an abundance. But from the one who has not, even what he has will be taken away.  And cast the worthless servant into the outer darkness. In that place there will be weeping and gnashing of teeth.’

And I’m not here saying I’m doing this right either. Oh no. I’ve got just as bad an attitude about it as the next person. I get apathetic…and a lot of the time just plain pathetic. I have bad attitudes. I rely on convenience. I flat out sin all the time. I’m not here writing some self-righteous tirade about how I’ve figured it all out and everyone else is a complete idiot. Ha. What a hypocrite that would make me.

But I’m excited.

I am learning things.

I want to share.

These things are going to hurt a lot when I act on them. They are going to go against a sinful nature, a rebellious heart, and a selfish flesh. I’m not going to be good at it.

But I’m going to try to be a good and faithful servant, so that when I meet my Maker, He tells me, “Well done.”

I love books! book review #1

Review: Diapers, Dishes & Dominion: How Christian Housewives Can Change the World by Leah D. Smith

When I started raising my girls, I had a specific purpose in mind: Raise them to be godly. Raise them to be a blessing to others. But this parenting thing is a whole lot harder than you can possibly be prepared for!

I asked a couple of friends who’s parenting I respected based on how their children behaved, and a dear friend let me borrow a few books from her. A little while later she gifted this book to me, and one on farming for my husband (I really need to find that one…). I’m embarrassed to say, that though I did start to read it with good intention, it got moved to the back-burner. However, recently I decided to pick it up again and read it all the way through.

I cannot thank my friend (and God) enough for this book! It was completely different from what I expected it to be, and it has blown. my. mind.

Yes, this is a how-to book on how to raise your kids, and how to be a good mom.

Yes, you will get a bunch of advice from the author’s personal experience.

No, it will not be a written-out step-by-step plan, because all families are different, all people are different with different personalities and gifts, and so you do have to use some common sense for your own family.

However, this book is so much more.

This book is not for the weak of mind or the weak of heart. If you are the type of person who is set in your ways and hates change – DO NOT READ THIS BOOK! But if you have a teachable spirit, and are open to scripture transforming your mind and also willing to do your own homework, this book may be the blessing you need in your life this very moment.

I am now more at peace with the direction of my personal life, the direction of our family, and the direction of the universal church than I have ever been in my life. I am more excited and determined to move forward. I am feeling bolder in my faith as a Christian. I am excited about the future of the lives of my family, and the condition of our world.

I challenge every woman who calls herself a Christian, whether you have a family today, or are hoping for one in the future, to read this book.

I challenge every Christian woman who has ever been afraid to have a family based on your fear of the future to read this book.

I challenge any woman who is not afraid to take on a challenge to read this book.

I challenge every Christian man who is not afraid of his wife, buy her this book.

starting at the beginning, part 1: take dominion

Since I vented a little last week, I’ve been struggling at where to begin my newly acquired, long list of posts. Today I just decided I would start where it makes sense: at the beginning.

As homesteaders and Christians, we turn to the Bible to instruct us on what we should do in all parts of life (or at least we should). So what does the Bible first say about homesteading? To the very first man and woman, who he created in a garden full of vegetation and animals, He gave this charge.

Genesis 1:27-28 (ESV)

“So God created man in his own image,
    in the image of God he created him;
    male and female he created them.

And God blessed them. And God said to them, “Be fruitful and multiply and fill the earth and subdue it, and have dominion over the fish of the sea and over the birds of the heavens and over every living thing that moves on the earth.”

Then God destroyed the earth with a flood, preserving one man and woman and their progeny. Again, He charged them,

Genesis 9:1-3 (ESV)

“And God blessed Noah and his sons and said to them, “Be fruitful and multiply and fill the earth. The fear of you and the dread of you shall be upon every beast of the earth and upon every bird of the heavens, upon everything that creeps on the ground and all the fish of the sea. Into your hand they are delivered.  Every moving thing that lives shall be food for you. And as I gave you the green plants, I give you everything.”

Later on, the Psalmist, David, would sing in praise of the mandate God has placed upon mankind.

Psalm 8:3-8 (ESV)

“When I look at your heavens, the work of your fingers,
    the moon and the stars, which you have set in place,
 what is man that you are mindful of him,
    and the son of man that you care for him?

 Yet you have made him a little lower than the heavenly beings
    and crowned him with glory and honor.
 You have given him dominion over the works of your hands;
    you have put all things under his feet,
 all sheep and oxen,
    and also the beasts of the field,
 the birds of the heavens, and the fish of the sea,
    whatever passes along the paths of the seas.”

The prophets prophesied about what manner we are to respond to the creation, fellow man, and the Lord.

Micah 6:8

“He has told you, O man, what is good; and what does the LORD require of you but to do justice, and to love kindness, and to walk humbly with your God?”

What can we learn about homesteading through these verses?

“…subdue it, and have dominion…”

When we think of the words “subdue” and “dominion,” several thoughts may come into your mind. You may be thinking of “dominance,” which may in turn cause you to think of “abuse” and/or “slavery”. I believe this is a very toxic way of viewing this mandate. God did not charge mankind with abusing and enslaving the earth, men, and animals. However, since sin entered the world, it seems as though that is exactly what mankind has done.

We have seen how barbaric some of mankind has been. Over the course of history up until present time we have seen slavery in many forms, and toward many people groups, along with various kinds of abuses including prostitution, human sacrifice (both child and adult), fighting to the death, warfare, etc. Testing, fighting, and other kinds of abuses in the name of both science and entertainment have been inflicted upon animals. Finally, there is earth abuse which we can see plainly from landfills, oil spills, air pollution, radiation, nuclear warfare, etc.

This is not dominion. This is sickness.

Christians should be the remedy instead of contributing to the problem.

Dominion comes from the latin dominus, ‘lord, master.’ In other words, humankind is to take charge of the earth and all that dwells therein. Furthermore, God destroyed the earth with a flood when men became corrupt and wicked, preserving the one man, Noah (and his family), who still obeyed Him. God wants His people to obey his mandate; to be benevolent caretakers of the earth He created. “Do justice, love kindness, walk humbly…

It’s sad to say that the tree-hugging hippies and environmentalist pagans are doing a better job advocating for “mother earth” than the Christians who were given this charge.

Jesus told this parable:

Luke 12:35-40

“Be dressed ready for service and keep your lamps burning, like servants waiting for their master to return from a wedding banquet, so that when he comes and knocks they can immediately open the door for him. It will be good for those servants whose master finds them watching when he comes. Truly I tell you, he will dress himself to serve, will have them recline at the table and will come and wait on them. It will be good for those servants whose master finds them ready, even if he comes in the middle of the night or toward daybreak. But understand this: If the owner of the house had known at what hour the thief was coming, he would not have let his house be broken into. You also must be ready, because the Son of Man will come at an hour when you do not expect him.”

Do you think Christ, at His return, will be impressed at that you were waiting at the door of your house reading the book of Revelation? Or do you think he would rather return to His people who are working hard at obeying all the commands of His Father who sent Him.

Love God above all (obey him, not man)

Love others (do justice, love kindness)

Take dominion

Be fruitful and multiply, filling the earth
(have sex and babies! make sure there are more babies than parents – this is how multiplication works in case you forgot. if you can’t make babies, adopt!)

Make disciples of all nations (not just witnessing, but training)

more to homesteading.

So far as this blog has been concerned, I haven’t talked a WHOLE lot about my spiritual beliefs. For the most part, I wanted to keep those kind of things off the blog to make it more accessible to to the masses. I haven’t shied away from talking about my faith completely (I did have Thursday Thanks going for a while), I just chose not to make this the forum for talking about faith.

I didn’t want to offend people by my beliefs and get hate/controvercial comments. I was afraid I would end up making enemies of the people who like me based on what they don’t know about me.

I believe this was a mistake.

For a while I was able to make this blog work. Talk about farmy things, talk about family things, talk about kitcheny things. Blah, blah, blah.

The problem is that my faith is the essence of who I am. The way I look at farming, family, food, my entire world is based on what I believe (or don’t believe) about God. Without connecting my life with my faith, my world seems duller to me; uninteresting. When I connect my life to God, my world becomes beautiful and alive. By disconnecting the two, I ran out of things to write, and the motivation to write.

My apologies to those who like to read my blog. I will be writing more, and the content will become skewed to my moral biases. You can continue to read if you like. If what you read offends you, makes you mad, and you don’t like it, well… 3 things. 1) You can talk to me in a kind way about it, and my mind may change, 2) you can talk kindly to me about it and my mind may not change, but we can agree to disagree, or 3) you can stop reading this stuff that upsets you so much.

The things I will talk about:

  • This is a homestead blog after all so I will write about the earth, and what we believe our responsibility is to it from our Christian perspective
  • The home, and what we believe our responsibilities are there. Homeschooling, housework (cooking/cleaning/playing),
  • Marriage
  • Gender roles, which I believe are equal in importance, but different.
  • Eschatology (how we view the future)
  • Probably other related stuff that I can’t yet think about.

People will get a good look at how abnormal of a person I am. But you know what? Who wants to be the same?

I’m not normal.

Today, after reading various online articles in my facebook feed (maybe I shouldn’t have done that today), I came to a conclusion. I have come to this conclusion many other times over the past 15 or so years. The more my life goes on, the more my values, morals, and worldview are sculpted, I seem to feel firmer in this conclusion.

I am not your normal Christian woman.

But what is normal?

Christianity, like every other religion and belief system is full of hypocrites, legalists, and just a bunch of flawed people. Because no matter how fake or sincere a person is, no one is perfect. Because human beings are flawed and don’t follow through, even the best intentioned, there are those just waiting in the wings to cast stones, criticize, slander, and gossip.

All these things make my heart heavy.

So as a result of flawed thinking and getting stuff wrong, normal Christianity is a whole lot of crazy. You have all kinds of factions. Some are loose and liberal. Some are nothing like what the Bible teaches Christianity to be; heretical yet still tolerated. Some are legalistic and uber judgmental. Some are downright cult-like.

Why would I want to keep identifying myself with all this crazy?

Well…because I love Christ.

What is Christianity at its core, except believing in Christ, that He is God, that He died for my sins and rose again to save me from them, and that He will one day return for His elect. Because I believe this, I follow Christ and do my best, fail, and try again to be like Him and do what He instructs me in the Bible.

Yes. If this is not what you believe, this sounds absurd. But. If at the end of my life this turns out to be wrong, who have I hurt more than the next person? Perhaps I have done a little good in the world and made a small fool of myself. I think I can live with that. Because I’m not perfect. Just like you.

So why am I not normal?

Who am I?

 

I am a Christian.

I am Reformed.

I baptize my babies.

I do not send my children to Sunday School, and won’t send them to Youth Group when they get older.

I am a woman.

I am a submissive [as possible for an imperfect] wife.

I do not believe in divorce or remarriage while my [former] spouse is still alive.

I believe in temporary separation (if necessary) and reconciliation (even if it takes a lifetime to accomplish).

I believe in women being treated with love and respect, and sticking up for themselves.

I believe in restraining orders.

I do not believe that to be feminism.

I am a mother.

I am pro-life.

I believe children are a blessing, not a limitation.

I will not use birth control, and therefore will screw up population control.

I have my babies at home.

I do not vaccinate.

I homeschool.

I may let my children date.

I will expose my children to beliefs, lifestyles, and religions other than my own.

I will teach them love and respect for those who they do not agree with.

I am a conservative who believes in social activism and environmentalism.

I will try not to disrespect my leaders (family, church, gov’t, etc.), even if I do not agree with them or did not elect/vote for them.

Sometimes my political and moral beliefs conflict with one another.

I don’t think America is a Christian nation.

I don’t believe in “dieting.”

I do believe in eating healthy, God-made food.

I don’t believe in going to the gym.

I do believe in moderate exercise and taking care of the body God gave me.

I can be very judgmental and unknowingly rude, but I feel remorse deeply, hate to disappoint others, and forgive quickly; never bearing a grudge.

I am a loyal friend to the point of taking abuse and being used.

I hate gossip, and will always try to get my information from the source.

I use less than savory language, but am trying to get better for the sake of my kids.

I drink alcohol and I’m not an alcoholic.

I listen to secular music and it hasn’t rotted my soul.

I am not ashamed of who I am.

I’m sure this is a short list. But…I’m not normal Christian, who happens to be a woman.