Thursday, December 22, 2011

Christmas Guilt

I'm sitting here three days before Christmas feeling like an epic fail.  In the few precious moments I've spent on the computer in this most holy of seasons, I've read many inspiring articles, posts and reminders, watched cute nativity movies on Youtube and listened to beautiful Christmas music composed solely to worship Him.  All the family traditions we typically practice like Advent, Jesse Tree, reading stories about the nativity, etc. meant to focus on the Christ-child are traditions we love, but I haven't had the energy for this year. In my sleep-addled brain, I've lacked organizational skills, time and energy.  So what have I done instead?  Buy gifts.  That's easy for me.  In fact, giving gifts is one major way I show love to others (learn more about love languages).  Going online and punching a few keystrokes in order to purchase something that will be directly delivered to my door is the simplest, and most dangerous, way to shop for Christmas.  Now I sit here just feeling like I've delivered materialism to my children this year instead of Jesus.

I know, I know, I've got some great excuses.  I have a 6-month-old who's recently left behind colic and instead has taken up teething, who wakes every 2-3 hours to eat even in the middle of the night and who asks to be constantly held so even performing the most mundane household tasks becomes a practice in balance and strategy.  However my husband was put in charge of gift buying this year so he chose everything online and then had me complete the purchasing.  So why did I feel the need to also buy some, there and everywhere?  Sure, we could blame it on my love language.  OR [cringing] on my natural materialistic tendencies that surface oh-so-easily when I'm not spiritually connected to my Savior. (You don't know how many times I had to rewrite that until sentence by sentence I narrowed it down to the painful truth.)

Of course, I could come up with a hundred reasons why I'm not connecting to God in this season of my life as well, but really, the truth of the matter is that I need to be connecting even more to God in this stage of life.  In fact, I should be clinging to Him desperately as I sleepily answer the cries of my hungry babe in the middle of the night or make my continuous rounds through the house always carrying, always rocking the baby or skip another hot meal to tend to the needs of the baby.  And I need to remember that besides my own baby, there's another greater one that was born more than 2000 years ago.

So with most of the presents already wrapped (thanks to my daughter!) and about to go under the tree, it's a bit late to be changing my tune with how we celebrate Christmas.  But just as an out-of-shape person finally hits bottom and decides at that point to diet and exercise, I've hit bottom and want to make our out-of-shape Christmas fit again.  Fit for a King!  After reading this post called The Christmas Conundrum, I'm very serious about using some of her "drastic" measures to get our focus back to where it belongs - on Christ.  I especially love her gift-giving policy for each of her kids: "Something you want, something you need, something to wear, something to read.  That's it. (This year we are adding something to give...)"  So it may be a little early in making resolutions, but my hope is that by this time next year, our house will be filled with not regret but joy and not with tons of gifts but a focus on the One Gift.  

Thursday, September 8, 2011

The Church Divided

divide* /dɪˈvaɪ dɪd/  verb, -vid·ed, -vid·ing, noun; verb
- to separate into parts, groups, sections, etc.
- to separate or part from something else; sunder; cut off.
- to deal out in parts; distribute in shares; apportion.
- to cleave; part.
- to separate in opinion or feeling; cause to disagree.

A new movie is being released called Divided.  It's about the age segregation we find in our traditional churches across America and whether the format these churches operate on is benefiting the family and the faith or harming it.  It's tagline is 'Modern Youth Ministry is Contrary to Scripture'.  Ok, wow.  If that doesn't get your local youth pastor's goat, I don't know what will.  This film is so controversial, it was blacklisted by the D6 Conference and Christianity Today!  After viewing the film online (free for a limited time), I realize it's very countercultural and harshly questions the acceptable norm of how our churches carry out certain ministries these days.  The film has even been labeled as propaganda.  Doug Phillips writes about it on his blog:

Doug Phillips, founder of Vision Forum Ministries who briefly appears in Divided, commented on the backlash: “The film’s detractors have sent a clear message to the Church: they will accept virtually anything from evangelicalism, except the position that says that the discipleship of youth should be directed in a family-integrated context, and that the youth-driven “Youth Ministry” is toxic; this position will not be tolerated,” Phillips said.

Brown offered this: “While Divided has been well-received by thousands, the opposition it has garnered illustrates one of the film’s core messages: that the church today has drifted away from Scripture and toward modern culture for her answers.

After watching the film myself, I can understand the resistance from mainstream evangelicals and youth ministries.  Nobody likes to hear they may be going about something in the wrong way.  However resistance is one thing, but banning a film (and without even seeing it?!) is another.  Who are we as a Christian culture that we can't even entertain challenging viewpoints within our own faith?  And whether you agree with the message behind the film or not, it will raise questions, stir healthy debate and challenge the status quo.
“The crux of the matter is that progressively over the last 200 years, the church has set aside the sufficiency of Scripture for the discipleship of the next generation.  And what you’ve been seeing is the devastation that has resulted from that as the church has abandoned the principles for the training of the next generation.”1
Since I enjoy debate and am intrigued by countercultural philosophies within society and specifically within the church, this film is right up my alley in terms of watching and then discussing this topic within community.  I encourage you to sit down and watch the film which lasts just under an hour and then leave your comments here.  I would love to hear your thoughts on this film and on the theological philosophies presented therein.

The film can be seen here online for a limited time only and will not be available after September 2011.

* From
1. Quoted from an interview with Scott Brown who is also executive producer of Divided

Wednesday, August 31, 2011

Cheerful Giving Requires Humble Taking

A common theme in our conversations lately has been about seasons of giving and taking. We all go through these seasons - sometimes we need to be able to humbly accept what is being offered to us and other times we need to be able to give from our abundance to others in need. I would venture to say we are much better about giving than taking. Giving makes us feel good, fulfilling a God-given and innate need for us to offer our things and ourselves for the good of others. God loves a cheerful giver, right? Taking makes us feel vulnerable, weak and useless. The Bible never mentions God loving a cheerful taker. Yet with all the mention of widows, blind men, lepers, the hungry, the sick and the ever-present poor, they all had to be takers at some point in their life.

Now on his way to Jerusalem, Jesus traveled along the border between Samaria and Galilee. As he was going into a village, ten men who had leprosy met him. They stood at a distance and called out in a loud voice, "Jesus, Master, have pity on us!" When he saw them, he said, "Go, show yourselves to the priests." And as they went, they were cleansed. One of them, when he saw he was healed, came back, praising God in a loud voice. He threw himself at Jesus' feet and thanked him—and he was a Samaritan. Jesus asked, "Were not all ten cleansed? Where are the other nine? Was no one found to return and give praise to God except this foreigner?" Then he said to him, "Rise and go; your faith has made you well." Luke 17:11-19

The thankful leper didn't compare himself to the other nine lepers and think he wasn't as worthy to receive Christ's healing as they were. Who knows how afflicted he was compared to his fellow lepers? Maybe he had more skin lesions than they did, maybe much less - it doesn't matter though. He obeyed Christ's command, realized he had been healed and came back to thank Jesus. He not only received complete physical healing, but in coming back, he received spiritual healing as well. In our seasons of need, let us not refuse to take the offerings of others. Instead use these times for reflection on our ultimate dependence on God and recognizing and thanking those He uses as instruments of His charity and grace. 

As Christians, we are commanded to take care of each other and "to love our neighbor as ourselves."1 If the world judges our faith by how we treat each other, we must take great care in watching out for each other and providing for each other. By loving each other and acting like the early church, we will be greater witnesses of Christ's love to those inside and outside our Christian community. So let us love each other. Let us need one another. Let us meet each others' needs "and so fulfill the law of Christ."2

1. From Mark 12:31a
2. From Galatians 6:2

Friday, August 26, 2011

Young, Hip and Teachers of Good Things

The aged women likewise, that they be in behaviour as becometh holiness, not false accusers,  not given to much wine, teachers of good things;  That they may teach the young women to be sober, to love their husbands,  to love their children,  To be discreet, chaste, keepers at home, good, obedient to their own husbands,  that the word of God be not blasphemed.   Titus 2. 3-5

 Whether you grow up in the church or became a believer as an adult, eventually you come across the passage in Titus 2 that admonishes one to find or become a  Titus 2 woman.  What is a Titus 2 woman, you may ask?  Well, according to it states: For women, Titus chapter two addresses two seasons in our lives. When we are younger, and when we are older. As older women we are to model and encourage good things to those younger than us. As younger women, we are to look to older women for wisdom and encouragement to do that which is good and right.  The way this passage is written, we can surmise that older women are ones who have already raised children and are in a position of experience to encourage younger women.  The funny thing is the life stage I find myself in (like many of us Kajijis Girls) is not being quite old exactly and having the ability to freely take on the mantle of the "older woman" and still being smack-dab in the middle of raising very young children and feeling very much like the "younger woman".  Truth be told, I'm in denial about how old I really am and prefer to still think of myself as a young, hip mama.  However, in today's society where motherhood is put off so much later than when this particular Bible passage was written, we are caught between being both women, the one with enough experience to encourage those younger than us yet still craving the necessary instruction of those whose footsteps we follow behind. goes on to say this:  All of us, no matter how old we are, are older than someone else. It's important to realize that no matter how old or young we are, we always have a younger audience.

Carolyn McCulley in her blog post titled Where's My Older Woman? says, "You know those times where someone says something and God bursts his light into an area of darkness in your heart? I had one, big time! A dear friend responded to the above scripture with words that both convicted me and encouraged me to repent. For many readers, I trust they'll do the same for you. She said, simply:
"So many times I've read Titus 2, about the older women training the younger, and immediately thought, ‘So where's my older woman, God?' Never did I ask him who my younger woman was."
This, sadly, is how I have responded for most of my Christian life. I felt certain that some elusive, godly grandmother type (preferably a pastor's wife) needed to take me under her wing and teach me how to be godly just like her. If I'm really honest with you, I have often believed that I simply couldn't be a godly woman myself until that older woman appeared. What a tricky deception!"

Carolyn's blog posting on this topic was both convicting and inspiring, and I encourage you to read the entire post here at The Council on Biblical Manhood & Womanhood (Sounds official...and cool, doesn't it?  I look forward to delving more into this site and seeing what else they have.) So do you have a Titus 2 relationship with anyone yet?  Do you find you're the mentor or the mentee?  Or a little bit of both maybe? 

Wednesday, August 3, 2011

Two Paths

My best friend is moving to France.  For a whole year.  There, I said it.  I may still be in denial about it, but I said it.  Besides death or divorce, this is probably the most traumatic thing an adult female can go through.  Losing one's best friend to another country is a difficult thing to swallow.  And having a baby just before being abandoned by said friend doesn't make the situation any easier.  So as I sit here in the daze of my fourth trimester as I like to call it, busy nursing, rocking and comforting my baby, my friend, Erin, is in the throes of her own chaos cleaning her house from top to bottom (did I mention they're house swapping with a family from France?), packing for an entire year abroad and saying goodbye to friends and family.  And besides being able to pillage her house and borrow whatever she's not packing and can be considered unnecessary for a French family to survive in America, I really see no benefit in this for me.  And yet God speaks to me and tells me there are lessons in store for me over the next year - in the words of Tim Hawkins, Yippy Skippy.

Though I don't idolize my friendships, per se, I can become very dependent on them.  After all, Kajiji Girls would not exist without Erin nor would Food n Flick or our awesome Thursday night ladies Bible study.  I may have some great ideas like starting something such as Kajiji Girls, but I probably wouldn't put it into action without Erin being my encourager and catalyst for such ideas.  This may be hard to believe if you know me, but being an introvert, I sometimes have a hard time being social or speaking up in a group or creating new events.  Even though it will be hard enough to get out over the course of next year with a new baby, it will be that much harder without the influence of my extroverted friend.  But God is telling me to learn to depend on Him that much more.  He will fill the void that is left when she leaves.  I'm not sure how He's going to occasionally babysit my kids or hold my new baby when I need an extra pair of arms or give me a cup of sugar or bake me crepes in the morning (ah, the tears are flowing now), but I guess I'll just have to wait and see.

Though I have a houseful of kids and I homeschool so therefore I'm busy, God has shown me the times in my day that I tend to waste.  Now that I won't have the wonderful distraction of visiting with Erin or talking on the phone with her, there will be extra time in my day to do the things I need to do such as clean my house, take care of my kids, homeschool, meal plan/cook, etc.   You can only imagine how much time we spend each day conversing with each other or seeing each other and how that can impact my day.  She's established a great habit of every time she's on the phone, she'll clean her house or complete another chore.  However I haven't established that habit - enough said.  There will be new meaning to the verse, "Whatever you do, work at it with all your heart, as working for the Lord, not for human masters, since you know that you will receive an inheritance from the Lord as a reward. It is the Lord Christ you are serving."I get the feeling I will be much busier this upcoming year and much more productive, and I have yet to be given a thoroughly happy heart about that.

Anytime I have a problem or issue to talk through, I pick up the phone and call Erin.  Though she technically will still be only a phone call away, it will cost us money to speak internationally so we've decided to try Skyping with each other for free.  But using Skype will require a bit more "work" than picking up my phone and hitting the two buttons it takes to reach her.  However God has provided me with an amazing network of sisters-in-Christ with whom I can talk to, fellowship with and depend on.  I don't mind asking Erin for help because I know how much she loves me and is willing to help me with anything, but learning to ask others for help will take some effort.  It requires a different instinct to reach out to those one is not used to reaching out, but it's another lesson to learn.

It takes faith to love someone and then let them go.  I will grieve this year's holidays spent without seeing my "other family".  I will grieve every time I pass by their house now occupied  by foreigners.  I will grieve not seeing them as part of our house church fellowship every week.  I will grieve the times they, as my children's Godparents, will miss in seeing my children grow another year taller and all my new baby's firsts as well as seeing my own God-children experience another culture, another world and other friends.  It takes a LOT of faith to let them go - faith that we will survive this next year without each other, faith that I can be happy for them even when I'm sad, faith that they will stay safe, faith that they will come back and faith that the changes we both experience over the next year will not change our commitment to each other. It also takes faith knowing that God's lessons may be hard, but they will always be beneficial and "being confident of this, that He who began a good work in you will carry it on to completion until the day of Christ Jesus. 2
God's thoughts are not our thoughts nor His ways, our ways (3), and experiencing my best friend moving to France would not. be. my. way.  However seeing God provide this opportunity for them and how He has worked in this situation has been a comfort to me knowing they are on His path for them.  We can't always walk on the same path, but as long as I'm on the path He wants me to be on, I'll be alright.  May God converge our two paths together again quickly, and may we be better people and friends for the paths we're currently on.

1. Colossians 3:23-24
2. Philippians 1:6
3. Paraphrased from Isaiah 55:8

Wednesday, July 27, 2011

Long Time, No See

I know it's been forever since I posted anything here, but I guess that's what happens when one has a baby. So forgive me...I am also not here to post anything new concerning my own thoughts and inspirations. Mainly because I have no new thoughts and inspirations due to being in survival mode while having a colicky newborn in the house. But I did come across a great blog post that I just had to share. So glean wisdom from someone else's thoughts and inspirations and read this...

When God Breaks Your Heart

There it was glaring out from the computer screen. The words I never thought I would see. I had been so confident in how God had directed me. For a moment I could not breathe. “We regret to inform you that…” I couldn’t read the rest of the email. The tears suddenly gushing down my face had obscured my vision. The email shattered my dreams. My heart, that desired so badly to serve God in this particular way, crumbled into pieces.

To continue reading, click here...

Tuesday, May 10, 2011

"The Gospel" Short Film

Ellerslie has just come out with a new short film called "The Gospel".  It's an inspiring message by Eric Ludy set to music and images.  If you have a chance, go to their website and watch other films by them - always inspiring and meant to make one "not ashamed of the gospel of Christ" (Romans 1:16)

Wednesday, April 20, 2011

The #1 Mistake in Parenting

Out of all the many mistakes and out of all the things we as parents get wrong, you want to know what I think is the #1 error?  It's root rests in a little phrase I hear more than ever these days: "I just want my child to be healthy and happy. That's all that matters."  Think about that.  Really ponder it.  It doesn't seem so harmful now, does it?  Who doesn't want their child to be healthy and happy?  In fact, I would say, there has been given to us a responsibility from God to help our children stay as healthy as possible.  But happy?  When did that kernel of apostasy creep into our theology?  As Christian parents, our duty has never been to make our children happy, but rather to make them holy.  Of course, we can't make them anything - only God can.  And though it is within our nature as parents to always strive to keep our children happy, it has never and will never be my job to make my children happy above all.  My job as a parent is to show my children by words and deeds how to be godly.  Anything else and I will have effectively taken my children by their little hands and led them down a path of unrighteousness.

It is not only acceptable by society's standards these days, but rather strongly encouraged, that we all need to live lives of happiness.  I don't think I need to point out our society has become a very selfish one, marketing their selfish agenda on all us innately selfish beings, as if the concept of "deserving it all" is a unique one.  God may have first created mankind to be holy and happy, however with mankind's fall, we found ourselves born into a state of sin and misery.  This is the condition of our society today.  

Today's new mantra of "just be who you are and love it" is a confusing and erroneous concept yet it's a message constantly fed to us and our children.  It's not an unnatural idea to raise our children to be and accept "who they were born to be."   Lady Gaga's new song "Born This Way" illustrates a secular humanist philosophy wrapped up in positive self-esteem...

"There's nothin' wrong with lovin' who you are, 
She said, 'Cause He made you perfect, babe.  
So hold your head up, girl, and you, you'll go far.  
Listen to me when I say: 

I'm beautiful in my own way, 
'Cause God makes no mistakes.  
I'm on the right track baby, 
I was born this way.

Don't hide yourself in regret,
Just love yourself and you're set
I'm on the right track, baby
I was born this way, yeah."  

Don't get me wrong - I want my children to have good self-esteem and love themselves as God loves them.  I just want them to understand that self-worth comes from who they are in Christ, not in their "innate perfection" touted by secular humanists.  The Bible specifically says, "Surely I was sinful at birth, sinful from the time my mother conceived me."1  and "The heart is deceitful above all things and desperately wicked: who can know it?"2  and "As it is written: “There is no one righteous, not even one; there is no one who understands, no one who seeks God.  All have turned away, they have together become worthless; there is no one who does good, not even one.” 3

If I see my child, by "being who they were born to be", choosing a path of ungodliness and Self, my job as a parent is to hold up a mirror of God's standards to help them change into who God wants them to be - which is like His Son - not what they want to be and not what I want them to be.  I, myself, am a work in progress and "I am confident of this very thing, that He who began a good work in [me] will perfect it until the day of Christ Jesus."If I am directed to let God continually work in my life to become more like Him, I am directed to help Him continually work in my child's life as well.  "Direct your children onto the right path, and when they are older, they will not leave it."There is no mention of my child being born on the right path or letting them discover the right path by themselves.  It denotes a heavy responsibility to always steer them towards righteousness.
Helping our children recognize and choose God's standards of righteousness for their lives is not only key to my responsibility as their parent but essential to their ultimate joy in life . 
I don't know about you, but I want my children to receive their strength, their joy and their worth through the only One who can sufficiently give them, not looking within themselves to find something that was never there at birth nor can be found with maturity. The LORD is my strength and shield. I trust him with all my heart. He helps me, and my heart is filled with joy. I burst out in songs of thanksgiving. Psalm 28:7

In this season of sacrifice while we observe Lent and Good Friday, let us teach our child(ren) to "let him deny himself, and take up his cross and follow me.  For whosoever will save his life shall lose it; and whosoever will lose his life for my sake shall find it."
"The joy of the Lord is your strength."  Nehemiah 8:10

Note: I am not advocating self-contempt here and understand that one of the biggest issues/disorders we have today is the lack of self-esteem in our children and in ourselves.  I believe this comes from not knowing who we are in Christ and am simply urging us to find our worth in Christ, not in ourselves.  

P.S. I apologize for the excessive clip art I've inserted into this blog post, however I have to admit there were so many "Love Yourself" images, I had a hard time choosing which ones to it illustrates my point quite nicely.
1. Psalm 51:5
2. Jeremiah 17:9
3. Romans 3:10-12
4. Philippians 1:6
5. Proverbs 22:6
6. Matthew 16:24b-25

Sunday, February 20, 2011

Public Prayer & Other Pet Peeves

Before you become offended by my title, let me clarify:  I am not against public prayer, and I wish it was more accepted and encouraged in our society.  I am, however, peeved by certain public prayers.  Read on to find out my meaning...

Ever find yourself with head bowed, hands clasped, listening to someone praying and the prayer starts to get on your nerves?  Maybe you know what I'm talking about - hearing those prayers that are full of "Christianese" and so long-winded, you're wondering if even God has fallen asleep?  Ok, I don't mean to be mean or negative here - obviously God doesn't fall asleep during our prayers, but growing up in a church and being surrounded by Christians my entire life, I've gotten pretty good at spotting those who seem to like to pray, not for the sake of seriously communing with God, but maybe because they seem to like the sound of their own voice or maybe because they feel the need to preach through their prayers.  It's one of my pet peeves, BUT a prayer that truly comes from someone's heart is like a breath of fresh air to me.  I ran across this message that described so perfectly why I feel this way about certain prayers and what proper praying sounds like, and I wanted to share it with you.  Sorry it's a bit long, but it's good!

It is much to be desired, that our hearts might be so affected with a sense of divine things and so closely engaged when we are worshiping God, that it might not be in the power of little circumstances to interrupt and perplex us, and to make us think the service wearisome and the time which we employ in it tedious. But as our infirmities are many and great, and the enemy of our souls is watchful to discompose us, if care is not taken by those who lead in social prayer, the exercise which is approved by the judgment may become a burden and an occasion of sin . . .

Length of Prayers

The chief fault of some good prayers is, that they are too long; not that I think we should pray by the clock, and limit ourselves precisely to a certain number of minutes; but it is better of the two, that the hearers should wish the prayer had been longer, than spend half the time in wishing it was over. 

There are, doubtless, seasons when the Lord is pleased to favour those who pray with a peculiar liberty: they speak because they feel; they have a wrestling spirit and hardly know how to leave off. When this is the case, those who join with them are seldom wearied, though the prayer should be protracted something beyond the usual limits. But I believe it sometimes happens, both in praying and in preaching, that we are apt to spin out our time to the greatest length, when we have in reality the least to say. Long prayers should in general be avoided, especially where several persons are to pray successively; or else even spiritual hearers will be unable to keep up their attention.

Preaching in Prayers

The prayers of some good men are more like preaching than praying. They rather express the Lord's mind to the people, than the desires of the people to the Lord. Indeed this can hardly be called prayer. It might in another place stand for part of a good sermon, but will afford little help to those who desire to pray with their hearts. Prayer should be sententious, and made up of breathings to the Lord, either of confession, petition, or praise. It should be not only Scriptural and evangelical, but experimental, a simple and unstudied expression of the wants and feelings of the soul.

Method in Prayer

Several books have been written to assist in the gift and exercise of prayer, and many useful hints may be borrowed from them. But a too close attention to the method therein recommended, gives an air of study and formality, and offends against that simplicity which is so essentially necessary to a good prayer, that no degree of acquired abilities can compensate for the want of it. It is possible to learn to pray mechanically, and by rule; but it is hardly possible to do so with acceptance and benefit to others. When the several parts of invocation, adoration, confession, petition, etc., follow each other in a stated order, the hearer's mind generally goes before the speaker's voice, and we can form a tolerable conjecture what is to come next. On this account we often find that unlettered people who have had little or no help from books, or rather have not been fettered by them, can pray with an unction and savour in an unpremeditated way, while the prayers of persons of much superior abilities, perhaps even of ministers themselves, are, though accurate and regular, so dry and starched, then they afford little either of pleasure or profit to spiritual mind. 
The studied addresses with which some approach the throne of grace remind us of a stranger's coming to a great man's door; he knocks and waits, sends in his name, and goes through a course of ceremony, before he gains admittance, while a child of the family uses no ceremony at all, but enters freely when he pleases, because he knows he is at home. It is true, we ought always to draw near the Lord with great humiliation of spirit, and a sense of our unworthiness. But this spirit is not always best expressed or promoted by a pompous enumeration of the names and titles of the God with whom we have to do, or by fixing in our minds beforehand the exact order in which we propose to arrange the several parts of our prayer. Some attention to method may be proper, for the prevention of repetitions; and plain people may be a little defective in it sometimes; but this defect will not be half so tiresome and disagreeable as a studied and artificial exactness.

Peculiarities of Manner

Many -- perhaps most -- people who pray in public have some favourite word or expression which recurs too often in their prayers, and is frequently used as a mere expletive, having no necessary connection with the sense of what they are speaking. The most disagreeable of these is when the name of the blessed God, with the addition perhaps of one or more epithets, as Great, Glorious, Holy, Almighty, etc., is introduced so often and without necessity, as seems neither to indicate a due reverence in the person who uses It, nor suited to excite reverence in those who hear. I will not say that this is taking the Name of God in vain, in the usual sense of the phrase: it is, however, a great impropriety, and should be guarded against. It would be well if they who use redundant expressions had a friend to give them a caution so that they might with a little care be retrenched; and hardly any person can be sensible of the little peculiarities he may inadvertently adopt, unless he is told of them. 

There are several things likewise respecting the voice and manner of prayer, which a person may with due care correct in himself, and which, if generally corrected, would make meetings for prayer more pleasant than sometimes they are. . . Very loud speaking is a fault, when the size of the place and the number of the hearers do not render it necessary. It may seem indeed to indicate great earnestness, and that the heart is much affected; yet it is often but false fire. It may be thought speaking 'with power', but a person who is favoured with the Lord's presence may pray with power in a moderate voice; and there may be very little of the power of the Spirit, though the voice should be heard in the street and neighbourhood. 

The other extreme of speaking too low is not so frequent; but, if we are not heard, we might as well altogether hold our peace. It exhausts the spirits and wearies the attention, to be listening for any length of time to a very low voice. Some words or sentences will be lost, which will render what is heard less intelligible and agreeable. If the speaker can be heard by the person furthest distant from him, the rest will hear of course. 

The tone of the voice is likewise to be regarded. Some have a tone in prayer so very different from their usual way of speaking, that their nearest friends, if not accustomed to them, could hardly know them by their voice. Sometimes the tone is changed, perhaps more than once, so that if our eyes did not give us more certain information than our ears, we might think two or three persons had been speaking by turns. It is a pity that when we approve what is spoken we should be so easily disconcerted by an awkwardness of delivery: yet so it often is, and probably so it will be, in the present weak and imperfect state of human nature. It is more to be lamented than wondered at, that sincere Christians are sometimes forced to confess: 'He is a good man, and his prayers as to their substance are spiritual and judicious, but there is something so displeasing in his manner that I am always uneasy when I hear him'.

Informality in Prayer

Contrary to this, and still more offensive, is a custom that some have of talking to the Lord in prayer. It is their natural voice indeed, but it is that expression of it which they use upon the most familiar and trivial occasions. The human voice is capable of so many inflections and variations, that it can adapt itself to the different sensations of the mind, as joy, sorrow, fear, desire, etc. If a man was pleading for his life, or expressing his thanks to the king for a pardon, common sense and decency would teach him a suitableness of manner; and anyone who could not understand his language might know by the sound of his words that he was not making a bargain or telling a story. How much more, when we speak to the King of kings, should the consideration of his glory and our own vileness, and of the important concerns we are engaged in before him, impress us with an air of seriousness and reverence, and prevent us from speaking to him as if he was altogether such an one as ourselves!

I shall be glad if these hints may be of any service to those who desire to worship God in spirit and in truth, and who wish that whatever has a tendency to damp the spirit of devotion, either in themselves or in others, might be avoided.1

~ John Newton 

So now that Mr. Newton has expressed all the ways in which we should not pray, I think he has convicted just about every kind of Christian pray-er there is, including myself.  Since we are probably all somewhat guilty of what he warns against, let us remember Jesus' perfect prayer which unites us all:
"Our Father in heaven,
hallowed be your name.
Your kingdom come,
your will be done,
on earth as it is in heaven.
Give us this day our daily bread,
and forgive us our sins,
as we forgive those who sin against us.
And lead us not into temptation,
but deliver us from evil."2  

1. John Newton's message taken from Puritan and edited for brevity.
2. Matthew 6:9-13

Thursday, February 3, 2011


The gospel is "I am accepted through Christ, therefore I obey" while every other religion operates on the principle of "I obey, therefore I am accepted." Martin Luther's fundamental insight was that this latter principle, the principle of 'religion' is the deep default mode of the human heart. The heart continues to work in that way even after conversion to Christ. Though we recognize and embrace the principle of the gospel, our hearts will always be trying to return to the mode of self-salvation, which leads to spiritual deadness, pride and strife and ministry ineffectiveness.   ~Tim Keller - Preaching in a Post-Modern City

Wednesday, January 12, 2011

"1 Corinthians 13 for Homeschool Moms"

For those of us who homeschool and even for those who don't but still take the time to train their children at home and desire to "bring them up in the nurture and admonition of the Lord"1, I thought this was a great reminder of the foundation we need to use in undergirding all of our training.

1 Corinthians 13 for Homeschool Moms
If I speak with the tongues of men and of angels, and teach my children Latin conjugations, Chinese and Portuguese, but do not have love, I have become a noisy gong or a clanging cymbal, and no matter what I say, they will not hear me.

If I have the gift of prophecy, and know my children’s bents and God’s plan for their lives, and know all mysteries and all knowledge, and am the keeper of the teacher’s editions and solutions manuals, and if I have all faith, so as to move mountains, and even keep up with my giant piles of laundry and dishes, but do not have love, I am nothing, even if all the people at church think I’m Supermom.

And if I give all my possessions to feed the poor, and my formal dining room gets turned into a schoolroom and our family vacations look more like educational fieldtrips, and if I surrender my body to be burned, never having time to get my nails done, put makeup on or even take a bath, but do not have love, it profits me nothing, because all my family cares about is the expression on my face, anyway.

Love is patient with the child who still can’t get double-digit subtraction with borrowing, and kind to the one who hasn’t turned in his research paper.  It is not jealous of moms with more, fewer, neater, more self-directed, better-behaved or smarter children.   

Love does not brag about homemade bread, book lists, or scholarships and is not arrogant about her lifestyle or curriculum choicesIt does not act unbecomingly or correct the children in front of their friends.  It does not seek its own, trying to squeeze in alone time when someone still needs help; it is not provoked when interrupted for the nineteenth time by a child, the phone, the doorbell or the dog; does not take into account a wrong suffered, even when no one compliments the dinner that took hours to make or the house that took so long to clean.

Love does not rejoice in unrighteousness or pointing out everyone else’s flaws, but rejoices with the truth and with every small step her children take in becoming more like Jesus, knowing it’s only by the grace of God when that occurs.

Love bears all things even while running on no sleep; believes all things, especially God’s promise to indwell and empower her, hopes all things, such as that she’ll actually complete the English curriculum this year and the kids will eventually graduate, endures all things, even questioning from strangers, worried relatives, and most of all, herself.
Love never fails.  And neither will she.  As long as she never, never, never gives up.

Misty Krasawski, December 8, 20082

1. Ephesians 6:4b
2. From Misty's website

Friday, January 7, 2011

"This Is the Stuff" Life is Made of!

A friend posted this on facebook today - it's a song and artist I'm not familiar with, but it reminded me of our conversation at Kajiji Girls this morning.  It's a fun, light-hearted ditty about the things that can drive us crazy, and the things God uses in our lives to grow us.  About trusting in God as He knows best what's going to work in teaching us different necessary virtues.  I was also reminded this morning by my dear KGs to not lose sight of gratefulness even in the midst of tough times or even mundane times.  It's something I'll be working on (See, Stacy? How's that for a New Year's Resolution?). :)

Wednesday, January 5, 2011

Happy Three Kings Day

In celebration of Epiphany (which is tomorrow and signals the end of the 12 days of Christmas and the Christmas season), I'd like to include a poem here by T.S. Eliot I came across.  It's called The Journey of the Magi.

"A cold coming we had of it,
Just the worst time of the year
For a journey, and such a long journey:
The was deep and the weather sharp,
The very dead of winter."
And the camels galled, sore-footed, refractory,
Lying down in the melting snow.
There were times we regretted
The summer palaces on slopes, the terraces,
And the silken girls bringing sherbet.
Then the camel men cursing and grumbling
And running away, and wanting their liquor and women,
And the night-fires gong out, and the lack of shelters,
And the cities hostile and the towns unfriendly
And the villages dirty, and charging high prices.:
A hard time we had of it.
At the end we preferred to travel all night,
Sleeping in snatches,
With the voices singing in our ears, saying
That this was all folly.

Then at dawn we came down to a temperate valley,
Wet, below the snow line, smelling of vegetation;
With a running stream and a water-mill beating the darkness,
And three trees on the low sky,
And an old white horse galloped away in the meadow.
Then we came to a tavern with vine-leaves over the lintel,
Six hands at an open door dicing for pieces of silver,
And feet kicking the empty wine-skins.
But there was no information, and so we continued
And arrived at evening, not a moment too soon
Finding the place; it was (you may say) satisfactory.

All this was a long time ago, I remember,
And I would do it again, but set down
This set down
This: were we lead all that way for
Birth or Death? There was a Birth, certainly,
We had evidence and no doubt. I have seen birth and death,
But had thought they were different; this Birth was
Hard and bitter agony for us, like Death, our death.
We returned to our places, these Kingdoms,
But no longer at ease here, in the old dispensation,
With an alien people clutching their gods.
I should be glad of another death.*

I wrote about Epiphany and my discovery of its rich tradition in a previous post - if you'd like to read more about it yourself, feel free to check it out here.  Hope your Christmas season was wonderful and your New Year is blessed!

*To read more about this poem, its background, symbolism, etc., go here.
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