Wrapped in Nothing But a Bedsheet?

Christ with the Woman Taken in Adultery, o/t, ...The powers-that-be have just dragged her from the bed of a man to whom she is not married.

Perhaps all she is wearing is a bedsheet.

Perhaps he is one of the powers-that-be.

Nevertheless, there she stands, exposed, before her authorities. They do not care about her. They do not care about right or wrong. The have stalked her, captured her, and reduced her to the status of rubbish for one purpose: to trick a popular counselor of that day.

“The law demands this woman be stoned to death,” they announce. Then they wait. They are so sure. They have Him this time. The Man of Mercies will have to admit that mercy does not always win.

Or so they think.

He is unperturbed.

He stoops and writes in the dust. A list of their sins? Perhaps.

Do they look around themselves, worriedly, confused? Perhaps.

Meanwhile, the life of a woman hangs over eternity. Perhaps, thrown down to the ground, does she cower? Perhaps.

In a culture that forbids her uncovered state, in a land filled with huge stones, she waits, uncovered, for her stoning.

Finally the Man stands to speak. “And whoever is without sin should throw the first stone.” Then he resumes writing.

Beginning with the eldest–perhaps wisest–each man drops his gleeful attitude, drops his stone, drops his case.

Point taken.

The kind Counselor turns to ask the woman, “Where are they? Who is accusing you?”

The answer, from inside a bedsheet: “No one.”

“Neither do I condemn you.”

Notice He does not say she did not sin, but only that He does not condemn her.

She stands obviously guilty and shamed, but for her, there is now no condemnation.

Stoning is not prevalent in our society, but prostitution is. I want to ask you: How many of us have been there–a blackened past forgiven by the mercies of God?

How many of us throw away that forgiveness?

How many of us hug our sad past close and get it out to look at it and mourn over it, to relive it to its fullest?

How many of us labor with all our might to get out from under sin that no longer is over us?

How many of us, on stormy days, add to the bad past by letting it create for us bad choices, bad attitudes, bad excuses?

A bad present? Even a bad future?

Jesus asked only one thing from that woman, that day, and asks it of us, too: “Go, and sin no more.”

________________

Image via Wikipedia

How to Sweat the Big Stuff

College. We all have to pay for it somehow!Just read a darling story about a guy who was, like me, a writer, but, who, not like me, had one published book under his belt and another on the way. He wrote of his old publisher doing something really unethical on the new book, and of having to insist it be recalled while he apologized to a certain famous person.

The famous person wrote him back with words of forgiveness.

His point was that it was wrong to have worried about this blunder, to have recalled the book, and to have written the apology.

I disagree.

While it is, truly, wrong to worry, it also is truly wrong to allow people to walk all over you and to let the mistakes you have allowed to damage others.

A Little Sweat Is Right and Good

The recall was right. The apology was right. The forgiveness was an act of mercy, which I do applaud, but the assessment of the whole ordeal was wrong.

It is right to attempt to undo a wrong. It is right to apologize. It is right to let those who would use you and put you in a bad light know you will not sit down for it.

I don’t know where this author went with the final outcome. I mean, did he use the same publisher, again? I don’t know. Did his relationship with the famous person grow and bloom or wither and die? I don’t know.

But I do know that, aside from the worry, he did the right thing.

And I might have worried a bit, too. Or at least prayed.

Which brings us to college debt forgiveness.

I am thinking I’ve lately read a wonderful solution to this lovely problem.

Folks may be thinking: what problem? There’s a problem? All these kids are getting out from under the huge burdens they were carrying from college. That’s a problem?

Yes.

It’s a problem to any parent who watches a CORRECTLY brought up kid paying down debt, working and going hungry during their college years, in order to make a debt-free life for himself.

It’s a problem when a parent’s coffers are dwindling from having kids in college, while taxes go up to pay for other kids’ college debt and half of them are not even in college.

Yes, it’s too expensive. They knew that going in.

Yes, debt is a heavy burden. They needed to learn that before they got out.

Yes, I think forgiveness is primo.

I just think it’s not about debt, it’s not about the price of college, and it’s not really about forgiveness.

Not about Debt?

You see, there will still be debt. Yep, it’s been passed around to us, who paid our own down, already. We’re all now in debt because today’s youth is stupid. YOU, dear reader, are in debt now, instead of them. Fine solution, I’d say.

Not about the High Cost?

The price of college is not going anywhere, and especially not going anywhere lower. If there is debt forgiveness legislated into our possibilities, then why lower the cost, hmm? Also, one huge factor many refuse to address in this equation is the fact that many families of high school grads did count the cost when they enrolled their children in a college, and then after they were locked in, the cost was raised. A contract was entered, a verbal agreement to a certain price, and then the rug was pulled. That can be so crippling.

Last, but not least, it’s not about forgiveness.

What is forgiveness?

  1. I can start by saying what it is not. It is not saying, “Oh, it’s okay.” It is not okay with me, at all. My money is going to pay for someone else’s flagrancy, with no assurance it will not be repeated soon. I was not even asked and given the opportunity to forgive. I was only notified I’d be the one paying for someone else’s “feelings” of forgiveness. How can that be forgiveness?
  2. Forgiveness is not “excuses”, either. Sure kids are financially ignorant. Sure they need cash to buy their new music, etc., so why save any to spend on school. Sure (Oh, MY!) they didn’t know they’d have to pay it back. Sure they … name your excuse. They couldn’t help it. Sure. I believe that. That is not forgiveness. Is not even a CALL for forgiveness. It’s just a statement of several tiring facts. Facts of life that no one knows are not forgiveness, not a sign of it, even. They’re just a long list of what’s wrong, here.
  3. Forgiveness is not trusting. Hoo, boy, don’t get me started. If trusting is forgiveness, then I’m the one that is being forgiven because we’re all trusting I’ll pay for the crazy. If I will, then I’m the crazy one, I think. But since forgiveness does not include trusting, I TRUST we’ll NOT trust these kids to try again, to accrue more debt again, for them to trust we’ll pay again?

I’d love to help you pay your debts, really I would, but I think they’d rather I be in debt, myself instead. Sorry.

It works, no matter what.

A dear friend and blogging sis, Kate Kresse, has had the same idea I did.

Visiting last night via emails, we realized we were both planning the same post for today.

Can’t be just coincidence.

I mentioned a section of Scripture that encourages me in times such as ours, and she said she was posting on that very topic. So here we are.

Genesis 50:20-21 is one I use so often, I no longer have to research in order to find the reference. And with my memory, that’s a sure sign of much repetition. It goes:

“You intended to harm me, but God intended it for good to accomplish what is now being done, the saving of many lives. So then, don’t be afraid. I will provide for you and your children.”

Joseph recognized by his brothers, by Léon Pie...

Joseph recognized by his brothers, by Léon Pierre Urbain Bourgeois, 1863 oil on canvas, at the Musée Municipal Frédéric Blandin, Nevers (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

Although I feel attacked by the very leader I should admire and trust, although his stated aims are to make my life as hard as possible, although he cares not about right or wrong as long as he perceives he is “winning”, although I feel my life and livelihood are merely casualties in some gross political game, I am not to fear.

I get it.

No fear. God will bring good from this in spite of the intentions of the one who seems to be in control of us.

Because that one is not really in control.

God is.

We will stand in awe and see amazing things, and my fear is slowly slinking away.

Thanks, Kate!

How to Tell the In-Laws, part 2

Matti

Matti (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

Yes, dear home educator, if your in-laws are very slow to accept your decisions, you may have a tough convincing task to attempt. You can ruin a relationship with extremely important people if you ignore the feelings of family members.

Never forget this:

  • No matter how right you are, you are the ones who are changing.
  • If there is a problem within the relationship, you are the ones through whom the problem is coming.
  • No matter how bizarre or painful your in-laws reactions may seem to you, you have the burden of proof.

This does not mean that you are wrong, no! If God is showing you to home school, then your decision is good and right. You can see that.

Your in-laws cannot, and maybe never will, unless someone who cares about them can help them see. This is where you may come in. They are the ones who feel bad, not you. Your patience toward them will help determine how this all turns out.

Knowing where to start can seem impossible, can it not? The best place to start any endeavor is on your knees.

Pray that God would give you the right words, springing from a right heart.
Remind yourself of the dedication your parents showed in your upbringing.
Recall that God provided for you, then, through them.
Remember His command to honor your parents.
Think how you would feel in a similar circumstance. It is not enough, in God’s eyes, to be right—you also must have a right heart attitude. (I Corinthians 13)

You must deal very gently and humbly with your in-laws. The way to do this is to enter the whole situation with thankfulness for your in-laws’ reaction. Three glorious things are happening in your life:

  1. Your in-laws care about you and your children.
  2. Your in-laws relate to you.
  3. You are home schooling.

Be thankful that they care, thankful that they still relate to you, and thankful that you home school. God can give you that thankful heart and the gentle humility.

Then, keep the reality of the problem in sight. The hurt, fear, and embarrassment are real to your in-laws, and will not go away for a long time. Only gentle, humble dealings will assuage their hearts. Maybe they do not really want to hear that their hurt is needless, their fears are groundless, or their embarrassment is baseless. While we can acknowledge that such a reaction may point to selfishness, pride, and lack of trust on their part, it does not change the fact that you, the messenger of such good/bad news, are finding it ill-received. It does not change God’s command to us to honor them. Part of honoring parents is to take their discomfort seriously.

The hurt is the hardest.

They truly did the best they could do (perhaps) for you, their child, and it truly is not good enough for your children. There is no getting around that.

Nevertheless, what your parents did—shifting their responsibility to educate you onto a worldly institution—was considered the best possible thing in their day. Now days it is not. Now days, experts cite home education as the best.

So in a way, you are doing exactly what your parents did: giving the best that you can.

In your parents’ days, homebound education was for children who had rheumatic fever or some other physical difficulty. In their parents’ days, though, the best often included instruction from someone who did not have a degree and many more received their education at home.

Perhaps you can make them see that what was “best” in Great-Great-Grandma’s days is now returning to vogue.

Perhaps you can make them see your home schooling as trying to keep up with current trends.

That is what they did. Thank them for caring and for their input. Let them know that you will need a lot of input. If possible, recruit their help from the start. If they can only provide a different type of flower for botany study or a different place to picnic, they can feel less left out and more as if “we help home school our grandchildren”. Help them see how much the worldly schools have deteriorated into something that is not the same as when you were little. Remind them that the Bible and good, common, Biblical sense no longer operate in the world’s schools, making them hostile places for children.

Their fears are not imagined, either.

How can your children get jobs or go to college without a high school diploma?

It was not so very long ago when you asked the same question yourself, was it? It is a legitimate question, along with many other questions that accompany the decision to home school.

Do not fault your parents or in-laws for asking the same questions you were asking just a year ago. They care, too. They may remember a few bad grades that you accumulated during your educational quest and may even feel that you do not know as much as you think you do.

Of course, almost anyone can teach most little ones the ABC’s, degree or not. What they really are asking about is high school math, is it not?

In most states, there is no test to prove “teacher proficiency” among home school moms, thank God! We are free to fail, if we want.

The simple answer is that we care about the children in our school, do not want to fail to meet their needs, and do not want them to fail. We will be diligent and we will constantly be checking our progress and theirs. Having a solid plan for checking their progress will help smooth the road for you with them.

Their embarrassment stems from what their friends will think.

These feelings can come from the idea of the dropout or the handicapped; ideas that, right or wrong, still carry a stigma for many people. Not too long ago, anyone who did not finish school was questionable.

Of course, we know that home educated graduates are more likely than others to find employment, in many cases, but our parents do not know this, sometimes (and neither do their chums.)

If you can find one of the lovely brochures that explain the preeminence of home schooling, it might help, especially if you present it quietly and gently.

If you know of other home educators who have had wonderful results (there are many) you might help the situation by pointing to their success.

One of the best arguments that I have found, one that even convinces me when I question myself, is the very long list of former home educated who became successful, even famous people. Many authors, scientists, and statesmen had the blessed start that can only happen on Mother’s lap. Many productive, moral members of our society have obtained their backbones from walking with Dad to town or to the barns and fields and watching him deal with the people he encountered. There is nothing like the way our country began, for generating good, solid life.

If you can make your family see that, they might catch your vision.

I can not promise that it will be easy. It has not been easy for us. Probably it will take a long time. Realize that you are asking them to trust you, regardless of their feelings, and . . .

. . . trust is something that a person must earn.

You cannot require or force it in any way; you must earn it. It is possible to earn trust, though, and some have done it. Until you see the beginnings of trust in your in-laws, at least you can base your words and actions upon humility and wisdom, and not leave your family with just reasons for their opposition.

Your calm, loving re-assurances can go a long way toward helping them have peace about your decisions.

It can help you have peace about it, too.

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Will Your Children Go to Jail?

About a third of the U.S. Population is, or has been, incarcerated, or is on parole.

A third.

I listened while a prison missionary told that terrifying statistic. I watched with mouth agape, a film showing baptisms of people in handcuffs. The joy of new life in Christ was obvious on their faces.

The prisons make up the fastest-growing portion of the Church in our country, if you count conversions.

The missionary told us of inmates who had come to Christ, finished their sentences, and returned to become missionaries to prisons, themselves, leading hundreds to life in Christ.

At last, our speaker told us of one inmate, a serial killer who had finally come to life in Christ and had gone on to lead many fellow inmates to Christ. If I told you his name, you would gasp. He was one of the top-name killers in our country, not long ago.

I say “was” because he, himself, was murdered by an inmate, about 4 years ago. His story, though, has direct relevance to us.

While this man was in prison, his dad sent him some Creation science materials. Reading these papers and books led him to realize Jesus is Lord, and to give his life over to Him.

In a nationally televised interview, he said he always thought evolutionists were right, that there is no God. If we all come from slime and return to it, he reasoned, he saw no point in having laws, no way of defining right and wrong. If what we do does not matter to any higher authority, then it is of no consequence, and killing is not wrong.

Therefore, he killed.

This was correct reasoning, by the way.

The Existence of the God of Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob IS the only reason to do right; His Word, the only definition of right.

You know, Hitler thought the same way.

So did Madame guillotine.

Everyone agrees.

Think about it awhile.

Keep your babies at home. Keep them out of the prisons built for children, the miniature unarmed police states that teach evolution.

Teach them the truth, yourself.

Never quit.

Click “Undo” – 2

Yesterday we began a series about how to begin home educating a child who is acclimatized to the collective school situation and may be reluctant about this big change in his life. You may want to catch up, here.

The second step is somehow to teach your child also to care more.

Unless your child has begged for rescue from the collective system, he may not see what you see or care about what you care about (his welfare).

He may not be comfortable with the idea that his education or his life is worth caring about.

He may not realize that it is now safe for him to care about life.

Affirmations of thankfulness and celebration about his new presence in your daily affairs will help him see a glimpse of it. As your actions follow your words, he will begin to believe it, and to feel some of the same, himself.

School buses congestionThe third step is to help your child understand what is happening in his life.

Even if he begged to home school, he is accustomed to a regime of bells jangling and other buffeting noises, dependent upon someone else telling him every move to make, and missing his old friends.

Now someone (you) must deal with this regimented, buffeted, dependent, and friendless soul who is moping at your kitchen table.

How do you explain? You start with God. If you have not had much time to minister God to your child, take it easy—you do not want to overwhelm him and you cannot force him.

You will have a long time to get your whole school right, but you have only now to get now right. Proceed humbly. Pray without ceasing.

If he does understand the concept of knowing God’s will, you can tell him that you are obeying God, and that sometimes that means changes that do not feel comfortable. There always is some other way that seems right to us. (Proverbs ­­­­­­­­­­­­­­14:12, 16:25)

Confess that you could not or would not hear God, before, which is how you both got to where you are now. Yes, confess. Apologize and ask for forgiveness. You, dear parent, have wasted a portion of the life of this child, who was at your mercy, leading him to learn to enjoy the world’s ways; you have seen the coming consequences; and you have repented. Now you must woo a child of the world to see the light of God’s glorious way for His people. Your humble, repeated apology will help him see that the old way was wrong and that when he longs for it, he too is wrong. Do not expect him to see it at first, but do tell him, often, how sorry you are and do not merely tell him. Show him. Make amends, somehow. Often.

More tomorrow.

Sunday Scriptures – Pattern

Every priest is appointed to offer both gifts and sacrifices, and so it was necessary for this one also to have something to offer. If he were on earth, he would not be a priest, for there are already men who offer the gifts prescribed by the law. They serve at a sanctuary that is a copy and shadow of what is in heaven. This is why Moses was warned when he was about to build the tabernacle: “See to it that you make everything according to the pattern shown you on the mountain.” But the ministry Jesus has received is as superior to theirs as the covenant of which he is mediator is superior to the old one, and it is founded on better promises.

For if there had been nothing wrong with that first covenant, no place would have been sought for another. But God found fault with the people and said:

“The time is coming, declares the Lord,
when I will make a new covenant
with the house of Israel
and with the house of Judah.
It will not be like the covenant
I made with their forefathers
When I took them by the hand to lead them out of Egypt,
because they did not remain faithful to my covenant,
And I turned away from them, declares the Lord
This is the covenant I will make with the house of Israel
after that time, declares the Lord.
I will put my laws in their minds
and write them on their hearts.
I will be their God,
and they will be my people.
No longer will a man teach his neighbor,
or a man his brother, saying ‘Know the Lord,’
because they will all know me,
from the least of them to the greatest.
For I will forgive their wickedness
and will remember their sins no more.”

Hebrews 8:2 NIV

For photos of a life-size replica of the tabernacle, go here!