Tuesday, May 18, 2010

The Narrow Path: Sheltering vs. Legalism

There is a fine line between legalism and sheltering, but how can you tell where that is? Who exemplifies sheltering and who is just being legalistic? Of course if God calls you to live a certain way, you should. I guess it starts to become legalistic when the "rules" get too complicated and inflexible, and you start to impose those rules on others. When Scripture is stretched, and then it definitely becomes legalistic when one states you must live exactly this man made way to be considered righteous.

I am all for bringing my walk with the Lord to the next level, getting rid of what ever is going to hold me back. However, on the other hand, I do not want to become a Pharisee either. Both extremes worry me, I do not want to fall into either pit. One might look better than the other, but a pit is a pit. More over, who did Jesus show most disdain for thieving tax collectors or Pharisees? Maybe walking a Christian life is not only a narrow path because few, truly choose it, but also because it is very easy on a narrow path to step off the path. A little to the right or a little to the left, and you find yourself off the path before you even realize it.

Jesus talked about the Pharisees, as
"They crush people with unbearable religious demands and never lift a finger to ease the burden." ~ Matthew 22:4 NLT **
Sometimes I wonder whether, especially in homeschooling circles, that we become too legalistic, making high demands of holiness. If you go far enough in sheltering, you end up in legalism. Also, if you continue that verse above, it speaks of the Pharisees behaving this way for the good opinions of others, self-righteousness. It is dangerously easy to slip into self-righteousness the more you shelter. So, we must be careful the way we speak of it, to bring the glory to God and not ourselves, nor judgment on others. After all, it is our heart God is after.

Instead of hard and fast rules, use the Biblical sense in each unique situation. For example, instead of throwing out the TV, use it sparingly, only watching shows you would watch with Jesus sitting next to you. After all, God is always with us, though we forget that much of the time. In our case, we do not have cable, I mean not even basic. Since the switch to digital, we only get a few channels, and that is with the converter. Not only is this cheaper, it protects us from things we do not want in our home. We must sift through all these things with prayer and abiding in God's Word. Apply the Bible to each show, instead of just chucking the whole idea of TV. This way we are teaching our children how to navigate through the world, living in the world, but not of it. It is sort of like Sleeping Beauty and the spinning wheel, wouldn't it have been better, if at an appropriate age, the king and queen taught their daughter about the spinning wheel and not isolated her away from it.

After all, where will the rules end? No TV, no video games, and well, cheese doodles and french fries have caused many people to become gluttons, perhaps those should be banded as well. They are not edifying to the spirit, they do not improve our relationship with Christ. Any small amount of poison is still poison right? The one thing these items have in common is none of them are mentioned in the Bible. So how do we know exactly how to handle them with consistency?

Instead of being like a totalitarian government like North Korea, our sheltering should not resemble isolation*. Nor should we leave our children exposed to all of the world, that would be foolish and dangerous. Sheltering is a must for every Christian parent. We need to, at a reasonable level, protect them while preparing them to live in the world and not be of it. Not isolating, not exposure, but insulating. Never failing to tell them, that ALL have sinned and fallen short of the glory of God.

If you are a homeschooler, do not be beat up by the legalism of others. If there is something that is not honoring to God in your life, by all means feel that conviction. But do not follow man made rules. Do not let others make you feel guilty when there is no sin on your part, they probably do not want to make you feel that way in the first place. As homeschoolers, lets not run so far away from sin, that we run right through God's shelter and into sin again. While homeschooling is not for everyone, it is a truly great way to insulate your children!

*Some of my ideas on involving some parts of this post where learned and inspired by a workshop by David Hazell titled, "Exposed, Isolated, or Insulated." Not anything about the Pharisees, but only in regards to the ideas referred to in the workshop title.

**There is plenty of scripture on Pharisees, but I assume you have read them. So I do not list additional verses or explanations about the Pharisees.

Here is another post about sheltering from Leading Little Heart Home BLOG.

Thursday, May 13, 2010

No Homework: A Plus to Homeschooling

Here is another one for the list:

Your evenings are free from homework, and so you have your evenings free.

My memory was refreshed on this point, when during the week, my daughter had a play date with friends who attend public school. Of course, my daughter was having a good time and wanted to stay, so I explained we had to leave because we had to go home and have dinner and I am sure her friends had things they had to do too. Their mother frown and said, "yes, we have homework to do." I forgotten all about being free from that burden. We had our schoolwork done by lunchtime, with the rest of the day for activities, playing or meeting up with others. While her public school mates had already a long day of school, only to have more school work to do after dinner.

Sunday, May 9, 2010

Hard Days Night

Being a mother is hard work, but anything worth respect or honor is not easy. Otherwise what would be the admiration in it. Someone walks away from their marriage when it gets ruff, no one says, "Oh, I really admired them, they broke their promise and took the easy way out." The world may say, do what makes you happy. But the truth of it is even unbelievers admire character, and living out character is not easy. That is why Mother's Day is made so important because mothers do sacrifice and work so hard. So take joy in your toil mothers. Thank God we have a wonderful purpose to our lives, that we do hard work that will be evident for generations. Those little ones notice more than we think, and the Lord sees all.

Very thankful this Mother's day for all those piles of laundry of little clothes, for the little toes which stick under the bathroom door, for the moments that stretch me and make me grow in my faith. Truly, I feel grateful in my heart for the gift of life the Lord has given to me and the lives God has bestowed in my care. The true trials and losses we face may make life lose it brightness and shine, but at other times it makes the little, passover things shine out to us. Laundry and sleepless nights are not life and death issues. Living through my husband's stroke recovery may have been very hard, but though it the Lord gave me a beautiful gift of seeing my world in a different way.

I have not really realized until today, that I no longer grumble or resent my load of work in the way I once did - as a martyr. Overwhelmed, in need of help, yes, but not as a dramatic sacrifice, but a beautiful privilege. I enjoy the recognition on Mother's Day, but I do not feel anymore that I need it. God has given me the reward of joy.

Not only are children a gift, but the hard work is a gift as well. This is not meant to make life look like a Brandy Bunch episode, because life with children is real and reality is often not pretty. It is not taking hard out or denying it with a fake smile and a cloak of gentleness, it saying that the hard work is OK, in fact a joy, because we know it has great value in an eternal perspective. You only need to feel sorry for a mother of many children if she fails to see the joy in her work.

Thursday, May 6, 2010

Small House Advantage

One advantage of living in a small house is that I can keep tabs on where my kids are, what they are doing and what they are saying. I can hear when they are saying mean things to each other, or conversing with themselves how mean I am to make them do math. Most lovely of all, hearing them be sweet to each other and their cute conversations when they think no one is listening.

Small houses have their challenges, but this is one big advantage.

Sunday, May 2, 2010

YWAM: A Resource for the Mission Minded

When we receive a Youth with a Mission catalog in the mail, I want to staple the whole thing to my reading list. This is one of those things I found on my homeschooling journey. They are not just for homeschoolers, but you will find them at some homeschool conferences. Many curriculums use their Christian Heroes: Then and Now. They make wonderful read alouds. They whole catalog is a wonderful resource for the mission minded family.

For 5 and up they have illustrated rhyming Heroes for Young Readers, which we have been working our way through and have really enjoyed. We have used the activity books, which I would highly recommend using with the books. They have various fun activities to reinforce the lesson learned by that hero. For every hero you construct a remembrance craft to put in a shoe box to remind you of the Godly character that person lived in their life. The books are long for a bouncy child, so either brake it up or give them the coloring page to color while they listen to the story.

It is very important to read the story first, as the reality the missionaries faced is included. So when Nate Saint or Jim Elliot get speared, you may what to be ready to deal with that, especially if you have a deep thinker and/or a sensitive child. When I have used this books with a group of children, I just skip those parts. My children are sensitive, deep thinkers types, but I have left the stories intact for them, and it has been fine. There is always the balance of exposing them to the reality of life, while maintaining their childhood innocence, only the parent can make that call. Since some of my children have experience the fragility of life that thankfully had a positive outcome, I feel that in some ways it has equip them a little better to stomach "life." Since we do not know what our future holds, it is a good idea to not to keep "life" too distant from your child. This will help them in their future trials. Of course, you do not want to terrorize a child either.

There are some great books for adults also, from missionary biographies to missions in your own life. They also carry fiction, Spanish, American heroes , readers, bible studies, curriculum, parenting and homeschooling books as well. Oh, I just want one of everything. Great stuff, hope you find it helpful. Please comment if you have used YWAM before.

FYI the website is found both by .com and .org