Thursday, June 14, 2007

My new blog

I have moved my blog to our family website (which isn't completed quite yet. I have finally posted about our trip and my pictures, which you can see here.

Wednesday, June 06, 2007

I'm Back

We just returned from a 4 day whirlwind trip to Louisiana and Arkansas. We had a blast, saw lots of family, and met some new friends. Before the trip I had tons to do, and many sick people. We've had some type of respiratory cold/virus going through the family. It started over a month ago with Gene bringing it home and had gone through several of the girls before we left. When we left Caroline, Lindsay and Rachel were all still battling it. Have you ever listened to someone blow their nose for 6 hours straight? Well, it's enough to make you want to ride on top of the van like they do in India! Right now, Sarah and I are the only ones not battling with this cold. Gene is going through it for the second time. I'm praying that it will shortly depart from our midst.

I will be blogging all of the info on the trip on our newly set up family site. I will post here when I have it up and running.

Monday, May 21, 2007

What a pastor should be

In June I will have been a Christian for 24 years, and in that time I have been in many churches due to moves and various other circumstances. I can't imagine trying to sit down and count how many pastors I have been under. Most of the churches I have been in are Baptist, mostly Southern Baptist. We currently attend a Bible church, which I really love. Being there has also shown me what things can be, and should be. I wanted to share some of my thoughts on this, and would love to hear your thoughts and experiences.

A pastor should be approachable. When I was first saved I was in a mega church that had over 1200 in Sunday School each week. Our pastor was relatively new to the area as were many on the staff. I became friends with the pastor and his wife and many of the staff at this church after I was saved. It may have been because of the radical change that overtook my life that made them take notice of me. Though, I'm not really sure why we had this relationship, because he didn't have it with many people. When Gene and I became engaged he agreed to marry us. I later found that this wasn't always the case. Much of the marrying, burying and visiting of the sick, was delegated to others on the staff. Since I wasn't experiencing this, I wasn't really aware of it, until a good friend of mine went to get married a few months after I did. The head pastor didn't "have time" to marry her because of his busy schedule. Looking at this 24 years later, I realize, that isn't how it should be. If your church is so big that the pastor doesn't have time to talk to you, or marry someone within his body, then there are some problems. I don't believe a pastor should do "everything" like in so many churches today. Though I do feel that he should have a relationship with those within his body. People should feel that he is approachable, not needing an appointment with him to just talk about the simplest things. Sadly, in most churches today, the pastor doesn't even know the names of most people within his congregation, much less have a real relationship with them. A lot of this stems from the mega-church mentality and the pastor being a personality (many are treated more like rock stars than pastors).

A pastor should be like a quarterback. I think the body should be viewed more like a an effective football team with the pastor as the quarterback. The quarterback is the leader on the field, giving the players directions, and calling audibles when needed. But, even on a professional football team, the quarterback doesn't call the plays on his own, he has a coaching staff to help him. Within the church, the pastor has the elders to lean on in helping to make decisions and to help in carrying the load. I had never been in a church where I had seen this work well, until I came to our present church. From what I have observed at our present church, no one man runs the show or makes all of the calls. The elders meet, discuss the issue at hand, pray about it, and make the decision together. As I'm not an elder, (nor could I be; just for clarification, I wouldn't think it proper for a woman to be) I've never been in on one of their meetings, but this is how I understand it works. I think it is wise for their to be a multitude of counsel, and no one man to be making the decisions. We are all fallible, and when we pray together, talk things out, and make decisions together, we are less likely to make a mistake.

A pastor should be humble. If a pastor isn't humble, it's going to be really hard for him to take direction, from the elders, and most likely from God. I have seen this played out numerous times. For some reason, today a pastor is viewed almost in the same way the pope is. People put a pastor on a pedestal and say things such as, "He's God's man." Many even tend to view the pastor as "holy." They seem to believe that he has a special, separate and different relationship with God than an "ordinary" believer. Many believe if the pastor says it, it must be so. This couldn't be further from what the scriptures teach. This thought process has sadly caused many pastors to become full of pride and being wise in their own eyes. There is a prevalent thought that because they have been to seminary, that they have a knowledge the "ordinary" person can't have. It takes a great deal of self-restraint and a person who really sees themselves for the sinner they are (that we all are) to be able to withstand the temptation to fall into pride. It works like a vicious cycle, and I'm not completely sure how to break it. Sadly, I know several young men who are going into seminary, and I already see them falling into this trap.

There is also the rock star or personality issue. Today many churches are only known by their pastor. You here it all the time, their is Joel Osteen's church, Rick Warren's church or John MacArthur's church. Some churches even have two campuses with thousands in attendance and the pastor shuttles between the two on a Sunday. In a church that we know of in Baton Rouge, the pastor flies in a helicopter between the two campuses so that he doesn't get caught in traffic. Is this really the picture of an over-shepherd the church teaches about? Is it any wonder that their are issues with pride, when those within the church look upon them as mini-gods? And they do, one thing I have learned is don't mess with a person's pastor. Some have even intimated that if you question a pastor, you are questioning God.

The thought that pastors are above the "ordinary" Christian stems straight from the Catholic church and is one of the things the reformers fought against. Tyndale was burned at the stake for bringing the Bible to the ordinary person so that they could read and study God's word on their own. But, it seems today that people have reverted back to the mindset of just sitting back and letting the pastor tell them what God's word means. They are not taking responsibility for studying out God's word and coming to an understanding of what it truly says. Sadly, most professing Christians don't even know how to use the simplest study tools, in order to study God's word.

A pastor should be interested in others' growth. This post came to mind after a conversation with a friend in which she shared that their pastor wasn't interested in what the Lord was teaching her & her husband. They are on fire, out witnessing and sharing their faith with others. They spend all of their free time either witnessing or in Bible study. When they try to talk to the pastor about what the Lord is showing them, what they are learning, or an experience they have had, he cuts them off. I've seen this happen many times in many different places. I've wondered why this is, and I'm not sure I have an answer. I think so much of all of this comes from the church not fulfilling the role that it was intended to fulfill. The problems with the church of today are too many to go into here, but no doubt that plays a great deal into the role of the pastor being misdirected.

I wish that many pastors would stop worrying so much about their eloquent speech behind the pulpit, and worry about how they interact with those around them. Sadly I've seen many of the people they have affected, and often their negative actions and words cause a persons heart to be hardened against the Lord. It is truly heartbreaking to me to see the results of this. I was a part of one church for a little over a year in which most everyone in it was a homeschooler. Now many of the teens I knew when I was there are in their 20's and very bitter towards how they were treated, and sadly, even towards the truth that was taught. This specific pastor did not live up to these qualifications and his fruit has borne this out. Many have tried to show him these problems, but sadly he will not listen.

There are many qualifications for a pastor, 1 Tim lists these:

The saying is trustworthy: If anyone aspires to the office of overseer, he desires a noble task. Therefore an overseer must be above reproach, the husband of one wife, sober-minded, self-controlled, respectable, hospitable, able to teach, not a drunkard, not violent but gentle, not quarrelsome, not a lover of money. He must manage his own household well, with all dignity keeping his children submissive, for if someone does not know how to manage his own household, how will he care for God's church? He must not be a recent convert, or he may become puffed up with conceit and fall into the condemnation of the devil. Moreover, he must be well thought of by outsiders, so that he may not fall into disgrace, into a snare of the devil.
1Tim 3:1-7 ESV

Please do not think that I am down on all pastors, there are many good ones out there. But, I have observed that the church today isn't fulfilling the role that it did during it's conception. I think we should study the scriptures and how the early Christians ministered to each other, what observances they held, and question what we do today. Do we do things because they are scriptural, or tradition? On what criteria are we placing ourselves under a pastor? Is it because our Sunday School class is fun and that's where all of our friends go to church? Is it the socially acceptable church to belong to? Or is their youth group just really cool? I know many who choose their church with little or no thought to the pastor or teaching they'll be receiving. I want to encourage you to examine your place of worship and ask yourself some tough questions. When we begin to ask ourselves the hard questions, it's amazing what the Lord will reveal to us about ourselves.

To close on a positive note, I wanted to share some of my thoughts on our pastor, Jay Anderson. I find it encouraging to be able to talk to him about things of a doctrinal or spiritual nature, and just simple everyday things. To have good discussions and both of us be able to give something to the conversation. Too often a pastor, who's gift is usually teaching, forgets that he can learn from those within his congregation. Every believer has something to offer, if we're walking in the faith, we should each have examples of things the Lord has taught us that we can share. Jay has caught me off guard a couple of times by asking me pointed questions, but I appreciate that so much. I appreciate his humbleness and how he will truly listen to what I'm saying. I also appreciate that he'll challenge me on something ( in a nice way) asking me why I hold my opinions on a certain topic. I have noticed that Jay isn't in front of the church until it is his teaching time. He's usually sitting with his wife and 6 children until he is going to preach, and if he has to be in the front for something before that time, he'll probably have a baby or little one in his arms, which speaks volumes to me. He is a great testimony in serving God & his family, which comes through in his sermons and interactions with others. I also appreciate his transparency as he teaches and the fact that he doesn't give off the impression that he has arrived. I have learned many things through his teaching and his study of God's word comes through in what he shares with us and the way in which he teaches.

I hope that in some way this will challenge your thinking, and cause some self-examination. I have learned many lessons through the school of hard knocks, maybe my experiences can help you make better choices than I did. Thanks for taking the time to read this, and I hope you'll share your thoughts & experiences.

Friday, May 11, 2007

The Duggars are having a baby!!!!!

I just read over at Carmon's blog that the Duggars are having another baby. This is such a blessing! My girls will now be anxiously awaiting another TLC installment on their family. We have watched all of their shows on large families and have greatly appreciated the positive way in which they have portrayed them. If you haven't had a chance to watch Kids by the Dozen, I encourage you to take the time out to do so. It is an encouragement to me to see these truly large families operate and function. Many people seem to think of us as a large family, but it doesn't seem that way at all to me. Maybe that's because I know many people with 8 to 10 kids, so in the grand scheme of things... 5 ain't nothin'.

We are rejoicing with the Duggar family in the expectation of the arrival of their newest little blessing!

Thursday, May 10, 2007

Slamming Homeschoolers

Apparently slamming homeschoolers is a pastime that some pastors seem to delve into. When I was at Carmon's blog, I read about a couple of articles that had been written on the subject. I typically let these things slide, but this time I decided I should respond to the mis-characterizations that were being presented. You can read the article I responded to at Reformation21. I am posting my letter to Dr. Trueman on the subject, and would love to hear your thoughts on it.

Dr. Trueman,
I read your post and take great exception with your comments.

"You can tell them on the Sundays: the exhausted and haggard mothers whose husbands expect them not only to cook and to clean, but also to home-school the kids. For every omnicompetent wife who seems to be able to run the world and then some, and still look like a million dollars when hubbie gets home for dinner (already on the table, of course), there are ten or more who look crushed and dispirited, who really need to send their kids out of the house in the morning so they can get some rest and some mental sanity, who need their husbands to see the problem and take steps to help them. Are they inadequate as Christian mothers? No. They are crushed by a "Christian" culture that demands their all and gives no slack."

I have been a Christian for 24 years, a wife for 23 years and a mother for 22 years. I have 5 daughters and have just finished my 16th year homeschooling. I will agree there were times that I have been tired and seemingly overwhelmed, but usually it wasn't because of my children, my husband, or my homeschooling. The feelings of being overwhelmed have been brought upon by people such as yourself who sit back and tell me I should get out of the house more and put my children in school. There have even been those who have felt the need to make comments about how many children we have. Comments such as, "Don't you know what causes that?" or "They really aren't cheaper by the dozen, you know." These comments as well as yours fall short of the admonition we are given in scripture to "encourage one another and lift each other up."

In my 16 years of homeschooling I have met very few women such as you describe, maybe only two. If you were to take a cross section of the population of people who have their kids in public school and are harried and haggard, I tend to believe that the percentage would be much higher. Many of those mothers are trying to be omnicompetent by raising children (that they rarely spend time with), have a full time job, run a house, and have a successful marriage (statistics are on my side for this accomplishment as well).

I tend to think, like many pastors, you believe what you perceive. Have you actually talked to these women and said, "Looks like you are having a rough week. Is there any way I can be an encouragement to you?" Or do you throw out the typical panacea of telling them to get rid of the kids and get rid of the problem? Look around you at the youth of today. Do you really think that the children who have been sent out are faring better than those who stay at home? If you do, you have been around the wrong homeschoolers! We have a family evangelism ministry where we go onto the streets and talk to people. I constantly see the outcome of those children (many of them pastors' kids) in the bar districts of Houston. I have seen the results on both sides, and wouldn't trade the sacrifices I have made personally, financially or socially for my children.

On the subject of being harried and stressed; do you think Paul felt any stress when he was stranded on the Island of Patmos? Or Christ, did he feel overwrought with the prospect of sacrificing his life when he prayed in the garden? Am I not to take up my cross and follow him? Who am I to complain about the extra work, or time involved? God did not promise me that things would be stress-free, and that my life would be easy. In fact just the opposite; He tells us many times about the trials we will face. My struggles have done nothing more than to cause me to lean on Him and find strength and comfort in His peace. God gave me these children to raise in the adnomition of his words and precepts; why would I hand over my God-ordained responsibility to someone else? So that I can get my nails done and play tennis?

You have made the mistake that is made by many who don't understand the choices a homeschooler makes. I challenge you to become an encourager to these women you slam. Sit down with their husbands and truly listen to why they feel called to do what they do and find out how you can help them. Don't be a discourager by criticizing their convictions; that is not what an over-shepherd is supposed to do. I have been in churches with pastors and elders who held your views and who were quite vocal about it. It was very discouraging to go to church and be persecuted by them because I was trying to give my all to Christ. I pray you will heed this admonishment and truly think about what you are saying.

To be fair to you and myself, I don't do everything perfectly. I don't know any homeschooling mom, or working mom, who does. I have a goal that I aim for, but it's just that, a goal. I seriously doubt that your wife meets all of her goals on a daily basis, or you, for that matter. We are all fallen creatures, and apart from Christ, none of us can do anything of eternal value. I think if you will listen to those you criticize, you will hear that their heart is to do nothing more than to do something of eternal value with their children.

I pray that as you go to your new church, you will go with a new mindset to be an encouragment to the homeschooling families within your fellowship. Please don't make the mistake of being a discourager to these families, they need the support and encouragement of a pastor who will come along side them and lift them up. If they feel judged by you for their convictions, sadly, they won't feel the freedom to come to you for the advice, guidance and support you could provide. You may not have realized the cord you would strike with your words, but then again, maybe you did. I would hope that you would not purposely try to discourage, but only you and God know the answer to that question.

Thursday, May 03, 2007

Time To Catch Up

It's hard to believe it's almost been a couple of weeks since I posted, but as usual life has not been dull.

Gene went to Washington, D.C. for the first time a couple of weeks ago on business. He was there for three days, and was able to do some sightseeing. He feels badly when I have to miss out on things such as this because he knows how much I love history. Not wanting me to feel left out he will call me from all of the places he visits so that I can feel apart of it (Isn't that sweet). While he was there he was also able to visit with our niece Betsy and have dinner with her. When he came back late Saturday night, I drove across Houston to pick him up at the airport. I know, for most people that would be no big deal... but then most people don't have to drive in Houston! Suffice it to say, people here are nuts. They drive like the tailpipe on their car has a molotov cocktail stuck in it which is about to explode at any minute. Driving courtesy is non-exisistent, and impatience is at a premium. Thankfully I didn't have to leave until 10pm and the Beltway wasn't too bad.

Saturday we had our first Family Evangelism Day at the Houston Zoo . It was a gloriously beautiful day with blue skies and puffy white clouds. The temperature wasn't too hot and there was a refreshing breeze blowing. We had two other families that joined us on our outing. One of our purposes for this day was to give our children on opportunity to hand out tracts, so Gene and I stood back, and let them have at it. We were there about an hour before any of our friends arrived and in that time our girls handed out about 700 tracts. After the others arrived and their were more hands, our girls handed out about 300 more and the other families handed out 500 combined. It's amazing to think that we put the gospel into the hands of 1,500 people over the course of a two hour period. Rachel did have one lady bring the tracts back and be rude with her, but she took it all in stride, not letting her dissuade her at all. After we finished we had a picnic lunch with one of the other families, which was also a great deal of fun. It was nice to have that time of fellowship.

After our time at the park we went to The Homeschool Store. They sell both new and used curriculum, and it's a book addicts heaven! I was wanting to buy The Heart of Wisdom Teaching Approach. I have really liked what I have read and researched about this curriculum. I have always liked the Charlotte Mason approach, but I have felt that many curriculms using this method focus more on the wisdom of man as opposed to the wisdom of God. HOW (Heart of Wisdom) uses what I love about CM (Charlotte Mason) and combines it with a focus on Godly wisdom. I look forward to finishing the book.

I was also able to get biographies on Robert E. Lee, Stonewall Jackson, and JEB Stewart and John Piper's "Recovering Biblical Manhood and Womanhood." They also have a free table at The Homeschool Store and I was able to to get a set of books on all of the states and "Quest for Love," by Elisabeth Elliot. I love my books, the only problem is, at times they tend to take over.

Saturday night a new and frightening part of our life occured. About 7pm Caroline began to complain of a painful, itching rash on both of her arms. At first we thought she had scraped them playing outside, but then it began to slowly spread and by 11 it went from her armpits to her wrist on both arms. I gave her a mega dose of Benadryl and put her to bed, checking on her throughout the night. We were unsure what it was, as the only "new" thing she had had were some cheese crackers. Monday she ate more of the crackers and within an hour broke out in a rash. I gave her Benadryl and told her to take a nap, thinking that when she awoke, it would be gone. It wasn't. Later on she ate something else and her rash began to get worse and she complained of having trouble breathing. Time for more Benadryl. I was out, so Lindsay administered it. Later when I came home she was still not doing well. I ended up calling the doctor who called in a prescription of prednisone for us. That helped, although Caroline will tell you it tastes worse than Robitussin... and that stuff's terrible! We think the allergy is due to peanuts or soy, but won't know until we do a blood test in a little over a week. We have to wait until she gets the prednisone out of her system. If you think of her, please pray for her. This is very hard on her, as she realizes the danger of eating even a little of either of these. We have had to get an Epi-pen to keep with her at all times, just in case she gets something through cross contamination.

I did forget to tell you about one funny, ok maybe not so funny incident. Lindsay is famous in our family for hurting herself in the oddest ways. For instance, one time she sprained her wrist by running across wet grass and slipping; hitting her hand on the van. The list is quite lengthy and I will spare you all the many times such things have happened, save this last one. Last week Lindsay was taking our Porky (Poodle/Yorkie) out in the yard to go potty late at night. Maggie has the brains of a Yorkie and barks at the wind or anything else she sees. This night (it was about 2am) she happened to see one of the neighborhood cats, we named him Puddleglum, looking over the fence at her. This sent her into a flurry of barking and running in circles. The night before this event, our porch light had gone out, so the yard was quite dark. Lindsay was running after Maggie to catch her and make her be quiet, forgetting that we have a horseshoe pit in our yard. Not some flimsy horseshoe pit, but a 1" steel pole that in concreted in the ground with a base of about a foot. This pole ain't moving for nothin'... especially not Lindsay's two baby piggies. Yes, she hit that pole running full speed. Makes ya wince just thinking about it doesn't it?! She broke the last two toes, and they turned all lovely shades of purple, green and yellow. It's been pretty painful for her, and since that time, we put Maggie on a leash when she goes out at night, so that we can yank her back in from the steps.

If you haven't figured it out yet....there's never a dull moment at our house!

Sunday, April 22, 2007

New Look

As you can see, my blog has acquired a new look. Lindsay just finished the re-design and I couldn't be happier. The picture is one that Lindsay took at our church in the surrounding field. It was taken a few weeks ago, just as the bluebonnets began to bloom. Isn't is wonderful to have a live in programmer?!

Thanks Lins for all of your hard work!!!!!