Tuesday, November 25, 2014

Homeschooling through Highschool - Citizenship

His eyes look so green when he cries. 
He must get that from his father.  Maybe it is because his face is red that his eyes look green. 
'I know you don't like how I handled that Mom, but I did what I thought was best.' 

How can I agree with doing that which you believe is right, speaking truth, and yet disagree with the method of speaking? Sometimes life lessons are hard.  Sometimes age doesn't really matter because regardless of if your 13 or 33 or 103 we all need a little truth spoken into our lives and we all need to speak softly and hear words rather than guess intentions.

I read James and so much of it speaks to me, calls to me, "Hide this in your heart!!"   I think James was a truth speaker.  Half brother to the Messiah, James has a lot to say about our words and our actions and conflicts, both the cause and the prevention.

James 1:19-20 Understand this, my dear brothers and sisters;  You must be quick to listen, slow to speak and slow to get angry.  Human anger does not produce the righteousness God desires.

James 1:22 But don't just listen to God's word, you must do what it says. Otherwise you are only fooling yourselves.

James 1:26 If you claim to be religious but don't control your tongue you are only fooling yourself and your religion is worthless.

James 2:1 My dear brothers and sisters, how can you claim to have faith in our glorious Lord Jesus Christ if you favor some people over others?

James 2:14 What is it dear brothers and sisters if you say you have faith but don't show it by your actions? Can this kind of faith save anyone?

I think about this and I think about homeschooling through high school and the conversations I have had over the years with families who were homeschooling and then stopped because they are so worn out. Home schooling through high school presents new interpersonal challenges.  Conflict between parent and student, or even conflicts in co-ops and student groups can be overwhelming.  Why do we have these conflicts?

James 4:1- 3 What is causing quarrels and fights among you? Don't they come from the evil desires that war within you? You want what you don't have so you scheme and kill to get it. You are jealous of what others have, but you can't get it, so you fight and wage war to take it away from them. Yet you don't have what you want because you don't ask God for it. And even when you do ask you don't get it because your motives are all wrong. You want only what will give you pleasure.

What causes quarrels? James lists a few things here.

1. Unmet (and sometimes unrealistic) expectations - you want (or expect) what you don't have (or get or have any right to get) 
This is the number one thing that I see in homeschooling that causes fights and quarrels. 
Parent/Student conflict - Mom and dad want more time spent studying , students want more time spent with friends. Everyone is unhappy.
Student/Student conflict -at this age most students are involved in at least one or two outside groups. Students sometimes have conflicts.

2. Jealously and Selfishness
When life becomes a popularity contest there is bound to be a LOT of jealousy.  This is something I see in churches, co-op's, and virtually everywhere in 'Christian' world.  Lots and lots of clamoring for attention and asserting one's 'rights' and very little humility and inclusivity. 
James 3:15 Jealousy and selfishness are not a part of God's wisdom.  Such things are earthly, unspiritual and demonic.
Are you only interested in your own life or your own family? Do you justify this with common sayings like 'God gave me my family' or 'I just can't help that you with your problem, you will need to take care of that."  Watch out!  What if the Lord only cared about His son's well being?  We have to be vigilant rather than arrogant.  I dont want to be like the man forgiven a large debt who then turns his neighbor over to the jailer because of a matter of $20.

3. Pride (aka Anger)
We can all find a reason to be offended. We can all find fault with each other and tear each other to pieces, OR we can lift up one another and determine that no matter what, we will resist the real enemy.  Pride is often our biggest downfall.  We miss seeing the very real schemes of the devil because we are so focused on how good and holy we think we are. Hanging onto offences, holding onto hurts instead of addressing them, and being offended on behalf of someone else is childish and foolish! Open our eyes to these schemes.
Proverbs 3:34 God opposes the proud but favors the humble.
James 4:7 So humble yourselves before God. Resist the devil and he will flee from you.

4. Grumbling, Judging and Gossip
James 4:11-12 Don't speak evil against each other, dear brothers and sisters.  If you criticize and judge each other you criticize God's law. Your job is to obey the law, not judge whether or not it applies to you. God alone, who gave the law, is the judge. He alone has the power to save or to destroy. So what right do you have to judge your neighbor?
James 5: 9 Don't grumble about each other, brothers and sisters, or you will be judged. For look, the Judge is standing at the door!

The truth is... When you are a citizen of two kingdoms, you can expect conflict.

James not only corrects, but also offers some insight.

James 3:11 - 12 Does a spring of water bubble out both fresh water and bitter water?  Does a fig tree produce olives or a grape vine produce figs? No, and you can't draw fresh water from a salty spring.

James 4:8 Come close to God and God will come close to you.  Wash your hands you sinners; purify your hearts, for your loyalty is divided between God and the world.

James 5:16 Confess your sins to each other and pray for each other so that you may be healed. The earnest prayer of a righteous person has great power and produces wonderful results.

James 3:17
But wisdom from above is first of all pure. It is also peace loving, gentle at all times, and willing to yield to others.  It is full of mercy and good deeds. It shows no favoritism and is always sincere. And those who are peacemakers will plant seeds of peace and reap a harvest of righteousness. 

Lord, help me to live as a citizen of Heaven.
Happy Thanksgiving!

Wednesday, November 12, 2014


Someone let the dog outside, twice. 

Angry voices, pitched high outside the window, carry just enough that I realize it is time to intervene.  Fingers point, voices raise, anger spills out with tears of frustration.  The dog runs free in the field, ears flapping in the wind, smile as wide as the sky, oblivious to the chaos happening behind her.  She knows we will come and find her, that we will be here.

A friend once noted to me that it's the behavior in our kids, reminding us of our own sin, which causes us the most grief.  So it's when I'm talking with my youngest about attitude and the feelings that say 'I do so much, I deserve my own way!'  that I can hear the spirit nudging me to get quiet and listen up because I too, need to hear some correction. 

How often I want things my own way?  How many times have I become upset at the way things have turned out? Doubting, fearful and listening to a voice of anger and defeat?

Hebrews 11:6   And it is impossible to please God without faith. Anyone who wants to come to him must believe that God exists and that he rewards those who sincerely seek him.

Faith is more than just a Pollyanna view of life which says  'Everything will work out',  Faith is more than hoping or praying for a better outcome. Faith is the action of trusting God and seeking Him.  It is an act of surrender.  I lay down my rights, my desires, my attitude, my hurts, my fears, and ultimately my desire to control, and trust in His will, His right, His desires. 

Faith is believing that not only is God my God, but also that God is Good even when it hurts. Even when things seem out of control and messy and I seem to be the only one who can see it? Faith is knowing that God is in control.

Isn't that what I am called to do? Have faith? Hebrews chapter 11 recounts many of the heroes of the faith, the prophets, the patriarchs, and at the very end it reminds me that these people died still hoping to see the promised Messiah.

My head tells me it is cautious, safer, to resist change, to strike a bargain and hunt for a way to stay the same.  There is a voice which says faith is for suckers, and you're in way over your head, and if anyone ever finds out what a failure you really are...... and the only way to keep that from happening is to try to control everything and everyone.  And if we are really honest, am I really being cautious or is that 'caution' born of a desire to control?

Caution and wisdom are not the same thing. One is driven by the shifting sands of anxiety and fear the other by firm foundation and anticipation of God's faithfulness.

In truth, Faith is only fear-filled when the one you trust isn't Faithful. 

My God is very faithful. My God is you'll never taste death faithful, and 90 years barren faithful, and I'll make you a nation faithful, and I'll walk you out of Egypt faithful.  He is even I'll bless you when all reasonable hope of blessing has passed faithful, and I'll heal your hearts and your home faithful, and I'll walk you though fire faithful.

As I think about all the examples in Hebrews 11, the things that God's people endured, I am awed by their faithfulness and stuck by the simplicity of faith.

Faith protected them. Faith protects me.

Anger, jealousy, fear, doubt. all of these eat away at me, gnaw at my faith, and when I embrace them, I can not also embrace humility, peace and faith and God's faithfulness. 

We talk about how the dog got loose, and how to be humble and considerate of each other. We talk about how to live in peace and store up wisdom. 

And I lay down some of my fears.  Fears about being inadequate to the task to which I have been called, fears about change. 

I see the promise on the horizon and I walk forward in faith, not knowing if I will ever see that day come to pass, still walking forward towards the promise. It seems so close, like change could be here tomorrow. I place my trust in the One who is Faithful and walk forward without fear.