Welcome! This is where it all began. I no longer post on this website and some of the content reflects former convictions and understandings. Some of these posts are hard core on issues that I am softer on these days. I deleted many posts that I feared would lead people into legalism, so if you find a missing hyperlink that may be why. These days I write at Covered By His Hand.

Friday, November 28, 2008

Swimming in Curriculum Options

I have spent the last hour reading reviews for different science curriculums - I think I am getting a migraine now! (Half joking)

By the time Rebecca was 4, I was already sure that we would use classical, Christian curriculum, and that it would be purchased through Veritas Press. By, the time Rebecca was 5, I realized that our income cannot begin to afford the things in that catalog. Looking back, I am glad that we didn't spend the $1000 I wanted to (for one year's supplies!), because I don't know if I would have really used everything.
I have said on my blog before, that I pick and choose what works for me. I love the freedom of this kind of picking and choosing. BUT, lately I have been wandering how long I will be able to keep this up! I have been homeschooling my kids for pennies. I have not had to buy much -and what we do have was bought with gift money (mine and Paul's) and our tax return. Homeschooling for free requires a LOT of time researching and printing things off the internet, many trips to the library, and a tremendous amount of self-discipline (by the teacher, me)!

So, I am asking myself: Will I be able to keep doing this even as Lydia begins to write, and Joshua joins our class (as a student). What if we have more kids? Will I be able to keep up with everything?

Also, while I love classical ed models, I am frustrated by the lack of science. (They do not introduce science till the child has a much larger vocabulary). So, I really want to get my hands on some Christian, 6-day creation based, science books. My kids are fascinated by blood and heartbeats, all that. And, they ask about stars and planets. They are very interested in bugs, animals, birds, and sea animals. Sounds like the headings in my grade school science books growing up!

I am going to keep using Saxon Math. I am going to keep printing everything I want off of Old Fashioned Education (this is where we get our history and so much more). I will keep reading the Bible to them often! I will keep getting books through the library. But, I want to begin to use some organized science plan!

Here is your chance to sound off. Your opinions count for more than the hour I spent at homeschoolreviews.com! What do you love for science? Does anyone do science for free? Where? I found free worksheets, but only as a supplement to other books and things. I am just too tired to keep trying to run a three ring circus every day it is time to prepare for tomorrow's school.

Schooling with Youtube

Homeschoolers have access to so many things on the internet! I am amazed at all the useful things I find when I browse YouTube. This morning we looked at volcanoes. Tomorrow, I plan to show them avalanches. (I am going to stick with catastrophes that do not happen in Missouri, we do not want nightmares).

NEVER LEAVE YOUR KIDS ALONE WITH YOUTUBE!!!!! Be very, very careful! (Watch out for nudity and obscene language. In addition, you will find that most science videos make reference to "millions of years.")

Anyway, I wanted to let you know about the 7 Days in a Week song. It may drive you crazy, but your kids will love it and the tune is catchy.

Also, look at her video about US coins. Very catchy, very helpful.

Go take a peek.

Thursday, November 27, 2008

Why God says "Wait"

It boggles the mind that some people get married at a young age, while others have to wait a long time. It does not make sense how the women who most want to get pregnant have to wait the longest (or may never have any at all). We ask "Why God?" In a world where so many people rush into seemingly foolish marriages and get divorces in less than a month, and others wait their whole life for the right one to be committed to and devoted to, only never to find that person. Or, we see people in the news and in Wal-Mart that are angry at being pregnant, they don't want their babies. Then, we see so many godly Christian women begging and pleading God, "Please, God, when will it be my turn?" So often we see God asking us to "Wait." Some people may wait their whole lives for something and never get it (marriage, baby, salvation of a family member). We ask "Why God, what is your purpose in this?"

I have a theory. I think that God wants to see us grow, even if it brings pain to us. Read this passage from James: My brethren, count it all joy when ye fall into divers temptations; Knowing this, that the trying of your faith worketh patience. But let patience have her perfect work, that ye may be perfect and entire, wanting nothing. James 1:2-4 (KJV)

Here is yet another part of my theory, follow me as we ride on my train of thought...
Some Christian women are in training their whole lives to be brides and mothers. They can cook and sew beautifully. They have the patience to deal with a half dozen babies all at once. These women seem to be the ones who have to wait the longest to meet their husbands and their future children (this can be said of men wanting to be husbands and fathers, as well). We all think, "God, she would be the perfect wife, the perfect mother." But, maybe God is thinking something like "she will be an excellent wife, she is all ready for that business. The best way to shape her and refine her is to make her wait for this - her deepest longing."

Then, we see women (like me) who grew up entirely selfishly, never thinking of anyone but herself. Never learning any useful thing to prepare her to be a good wife or mother. And, I end up married right after I turn 21 (to a man I knew all of three months). And, then I have 4 children in succession. So many times I would cry out, "Why God?" I struggled hard as a new wife. I wanted to run away more times than I can count. Then, I struggled as a new mom - I didn't know anything about raising babies! I have often questioned why God would entrust these four precious babies to a woman so unqualified as myself! But, maybe God is thinking something like, "She is so good at being independent. She is so good at thinking for herself. The best way to shape her and refine her is to give her a husband who will teach her about submission. Then, she needs many small children to give her patience and teach her not to be so selfish."

I do not mean to make light of God here - I know that his "thoughts are not [my] thoughts, neither are [His] ways my ways, saith the LORD." Isaiah 55:8 (KJV - adaptation mine) I am just trying to point out that different people need different circumstances to grow! Am I saying that God is cruel, or ignoring our prayers for things? NO, absolutely not! God is a giver of good things! Every good gift and every perfect gift is from above, and cometh down from the Father of lights, with whom is no variableness, neither shadow of turning. James 1:17 (KJV) God is more generous that we will understand in this lifetime!

Let's not forget that the same God who gave His son for our sins (Isaiah 53, John 3:16, Mark 12, Romans 5:8-10), gives perfect gifts, at the perfect time!

What did you do for Thanksgiving?

Every Mommy Blogger I see has pictures of her kids helping to prepare the big turkey feast. I have no such pictures. We do not plan to do a big feast, Paul is working today. We may go over to my inlaw's house later - depending on Lydia's runny nose, Nelson's cough, and Paul's really bad cough (that makes him lightheaded and dizzy.)

Anyway, here is how we spent our morning.... in school! We had a great time, learning about Thanksgiving, talking about Pilgrims, "Indians," the Mayflower, it was great. Here are pictures of the kids as they color their pictures of the Mayflower (courtesy of abcteach.com).
Poor Becca is all alone at the big table, because she outgrew the little table, and Nelson is just not quite tall enough to write at the big table.
Rebecca is a very deliberate artist, no scribbling here!

Joshie doesn't want to be left out! He attends many days in school too. I guess he's our mascot!

The kids are so patient to let Joshie color on their masterpieces!

Wednesday, November 26, 2008

Propane Tank Mystery

First, you need to know that we were almost entirely out of propane. Secondly, you need to know that we could not get anyone to leave gas and bill us. Everyone wants to be paid before they fill.

Today we saw a propane gas truck leave our house, we never heard him come in. Paul checked the door for some kind of advertisement. Instead, he found a receipt for 100 gallons of propane -PAID!

One of you dears put gas in our tank and heat in our house. Thank you, from the bottom of my heart, thank you. I didn't expect anything like that to happen, because none of you has my real address (or do you?). I asked my Dad, but he said it was not from him (but they are sending us some money to buy gas for a one-day trip to IL next week).

The only part of this mystery that I can solve is this: God is taking care of our needs - as He always has.

Therefore I say unto you, Take no thought for your life, what ye shall eat, or what ye shall drink; nor yet for your body, what ye shall put on. Is not the life more than eat, and the body than raiment? Behold the fowls of the air: for they sow not, neither do they reap, nor gather into barns; yet your heavenly Father feedeth them. Are ye not much better than they? Which of you by taking thought can add one cubit unto his stature? And why take ye thought for raiment? Consider the lilies of the field, how they grow; they toil not, neither do they spin: And yet I say unto you, That even
Solomon in all his glory was not arrayed like one of these. Wherefore, if God so clothe the grass of the field, which to day is, and to morrow is cast into the oven, shall he not much more clothe you, O ye of little faith? Therefore take no thought, saying, What shall we eat? or, What shall we drink? or, Wherewithal shall we be clothed? (For after all these things do the Gentiles seek:) for your heavenly Father knoweth that ye have need of all these things. But seek ye first the kingdom of God, and his righteousness; and all these things shall be added unto you. Take therefore no thought for the morrow: for the morrow shall take thought for the things of itself. Sufficient unto the day is the evil thereof. Matt 6:25-34 (KJV)

Tuesday, November 25, 2008

Good beginning

Our family has had a good beginning to the week, despite a rough start (the van died, the dryer died, etc). I can barely type fast enough to tell you about what is going on here!

I was made aware just how good a reader Nelson already is! I gave Rebecca some work practicing writing letters and numbers, so that I could work with Nelson. I already knew he could pick out letters and put them together to make words (they are puzzle pieces from Veritas Press Phonics Museum). Still, I wasn't sure if her can do it the other way around -read something already written out. (This might seem like an odd consideration, but for a LONG time Becca has been able to write words, but not read them at all!) He sat on my lap and READ one word after another!!! What joy (bitter sweet though it is) I feel! Seriously, you don't know how many times I thought I was the problem with Becca's reading! I thought "I must be a really bad teacher!" But, Nelson has shown that is isn't the fault of the teacher.

So, my boy can read 3-letter words, very easily, no pauses at all!... and my 6 year old daughter is still not able to catch on at all. You can see why I said it is a bitter sweet joy!

What a good start to the week! I hope your week is going as well as mine is. If it isn't let me know that too! I want to pray for you! Post a comment and let me know if you need a lift - we can all pray for you!

Extra day of work

In my post Power of Prayer, I asked you all to pray for our financial state. Then, I posted about the Small Things God was already doing to get us through.

Today is just a continuation of praise for what God is doing in this specific situation. Usually Paul has Sunday, Monday, and Tuesday off work. Then, he has every other Wednesday off. This was to be his 4 day weekend, but he got offered a chance to work today! We took it as an answer to prayer, even though he had no desire to give up his "weekend." So, he may end up having over time on the next paycheck! OR, if he gets Thanksgiving off (which is not likely, people want their satellites working for all the big games!) he will not lose any hours! Either way, this extra day of wok is a blessing.

Monday, November 24, 2008

Praise for the Small things

I said that I would post as God answered our collective prayers. I have one thing to be grateful for already. (Two actually) It was almost 60 today, so I had two loads of laundry line dry. I put another load to hang throughout the house... that is always good for the humidity in the house too ;)
Paul took apart the dryer and took parts into the appliance store... we did NOT need a new element, we just needed a new sensor. So, that fix only cost $30. I praise God for my handy husband!!!
Also, weather is supposed to be decent... maybe, just maybe, the gas left in the propane tank will last 11 days till the next pay day!

Power of Prayer

"And whatsoever ye shall ask in my name, that will I do, that the Father may be glorified in the Son. If ye shall ask any thing in my name, I will do it." John 14:13-14 (KJV)

I believe in the power of prayer. I believe that prayer changes things. Usually, when I ask for prayer on my blog it is for something VERY important - the salvation of a friend, a suicidal friend, etc. But, today, I am going to ask you all to pray for our family. It is not a matter of life or death. And, please know that the only help I am asking you for is your prayers!

That said, my family is in dire financial need. Our old farm house does not have a wood stove and we are not allowed to put one in. So, we rely entirely upon propane. We have not been able to add to our propane tank since we moved in, and now it sits at 11%. We keep the house at 63-65 (it depends if someone is sick and coughing. When Nelson and Paul get their coughing fits, we turn it up to 65). We were planning to have it filled this morning, but then the car died y-day... and the dryer died last week... and we have to eat -first and foremost. (We do not have insulation either, but we do have 2 little electric radiant heaters).

I am asking that y'all would pray that God's Will will be done! Secondly, I am asking that you would pray for Paul and I as we face these financial challenges. It is so easy to turn on one another and get snippy, just because your up against the wall. We want this time of difficulty to bring us closer! Also, ask God to give us wisdom - that we would know what we can do to ease our own burden (how to freeze dry clothes on the line, how to warm up water on the electric stove, how to best use what few resources we have). Lastly, is this yet one more sign that we need to move to somewhere with wood heat? Is this one more sign that Paul needs another line of work? Today, while the kids nap, we are going to to have a very serious conversation about what this money shortage means to my family.

Friends, please help us carry this heavy load to God. In a sense, we are crippled with this heavy burden of financial needs - will you carry us to Jesus? I will post and tell you how God is answering our prayers!

Thursday, November 20, 2008

One more reason I homeschool

This fall I began doing our school lessons with all my kids in the room (Rebecca 6, Nelson 5, Lydia 3, and occasionally Joshua 1). While we say that Becca is a first grader and Nelson is a Kindergartner, we keep those titles merely for the rest of the world. In reality, they all hear the same lessons every day. They all sit and listen and then I adapt the handwork to their level. (Obviously, Lydia cannot yet write letters).

Anyway, I have been struggling for two years with teaching Rebecca to read. She not only sees things backwards, she hears them backwards. (She will read /c/ /a/ /t/, then say "tac"). I keep going back to the basics with her, thinking that at some point it will "click." Along the way, Nelson learned all the letter sounds (and Lydia knows most). Nelson is already sounding out words. For months now, I was trying to keep him from passing Rebecca. I was buying into the world's philosophy that everyone's education has to look exactly the same or it is "wrong!"

Meanwhile, Paul knew that Nelson was in school with us, but had no idea what he was doing. (It's not that I didn't previously tell him- it is just that he didn't listen, or he forgot) When I told Paul how Nelson is picking up things so quick, Paul insisted that I stop holding Nelson back!

When my husband was in first grade he was held back because he couldn't read, even though he excelled in other fields of study. As a result, he became the class clown, because he was bored with all the review the next year of repeating the same grade. THIS is why I am glad that I homeschool! I can take my kids at their own pace! I can let them excel where they are gifted! And, I can go slower where they are struggling!

I love being a homeschool Mom!

Wednesday, November 19, 2008

The doctor I have been praying for!

I have such great news to share today, I found the doctor that I have literally been praying for for years!

Yesterday's appointment with the DO (my first ever with a DO) was an answer to prayer! First of all, I get there and I hear "Holy, Holy, Holy" playing in the waiting room. I began to see that it wasn't a fluke, as it was followed up with many other hymns and praise tunes. All the magazines were clean and family oriented! (no Redbook, Vogue, Sports Illustrated!) And, the kids books were all Bible stories or Max Lucado's stories.

Then, we got into the room (I took Rebecca, as my doctor is a man) he actually listened to me!!! He sat with me, talked to me, and listened to everything I said. I told him that I have been on Synthroid for 22 years and that it isn't working. I told him that I wanted to try a natural thyroid medicine like Armour or Westhroid. He said "I have no problem with that." I literally yelled, "Hallelujah!" (Becca thought that was pretty funny). He wrote me a script right then for a starting dose! We decided that I should wait a few weeks to begin to let the Synthroid work its way out, and to get a blood test without the influence of the Synthroid. He wants me to start the Armour in about 3 weeks.

Praise the Lord! I have been praying for YEARS for a doctor to listen and let me try something natural! I cannot explain how bad my health has gotten in these past few years. I cannot tell you how hard it is to change medicinal doses every 6 weeks! I cannot tell you how hard it is for me to hear a doctor say "You only gained 6 pounds this month, that's not bad." I cannot begin to tell you how frustrated I was to have my previous doctor refuse to try a different medicine, because he was afraid my body might not be able to handle it; then he turned around and nearly killed me by dropping my Synthroid dose too much. (Really, I am not exaggerating!!)

I do NOT put my hope for this life in doctors! But, I do find that this new plan of action brings me great pleasure! My hope for healing comes from the Great Physician!

Friend, do you know Jesus Christ, the Great Physician? The one who heals peoples' bodies, but more importantly heals our sinful hearts? He can bring you joy and peace like you have never experienced! It will not always be easy, it will not always be fun - but there is an eternal reward that outweighs all of our struggles here on Earth!

For I reckon that the sufferings of this present time are not worthy to be compared with the glory which shall be revealed in us. Romans 8:18 (KJV)

Saturday, November 15, 2008

Fighting Fatigue

These past few days have been very difficult for me. I feel as though my body has gone into hibernation mode. I am sleeping at least 12 hours and waking up tired. I cannot/do not wake up when my kids get up. I have been completely unable to perform normal tasks.

This is nothing new to me... BUT I had a few months reprieve and I was taking my health for granted. As you know, I am hypothyroid, and I cannot seem to find adequate treatment. I haven't tried anything but Synthroid, because my insurance won't pay for anything else.

Monday I go to see a DO for the first time and I am hoping that he will be able to recommend natural methods. Paul has agreed to pay ANYTHING out of pocket in attempt to make me well. As I have said here before, I know that God is a healer. But, I know that He may have reasons for not healing me (even though my family begs and pleads). We know that God is all powerful and all-knowing! We trust ourselves to Him! If God will not heal me, then I can/will trust that it is for my good and for His glory.

Still, I wander how bad it will get... Will I be able to keep teaching the kids? In the past I have gotten too tired to teach, too tired to cook, too tired to clean. How bad will it get this time? But, I am blessed! The Lord has given me a daughter who has the heart of a servant! She blessed me today by insisting that she would do the dishes alone! Up to this point she has been learning to wash, and has been supervised. I usually look over her shoulder to watch for dirt that didn't get cleaned off. But, this afternoon, my Precious Becca did all the work herself.

What's more, I heard her reviewing some phonics sounds with Nelson and Lydia today. And, I heard her teaching Nelson to write the letter "X."

I am crying... (sniffles) ... because I don't know what I would do without her. I know that the kids will not go hungry because she can cook too! My human mind doesn't always understand why God doesn't always heal, but this afternoon I am glad that I am sick. If I wasn't so tired I would never know just how precious, useful, and giving my daughter is!

I am so unworthy!

Monday, November 10, 2008

Family-integrated Lord's Day

(Update 8-21-2017: Paul and I currently attend a church where children over age 4 are encouraged to gather for worship with their families. Paul and I have kept our children with us in worship for many years, but we do NOT hold that conviction for other families and Paul has been a pastor at churches that were not family-integrated. This is not a topic over which Christians should divide.)

We went to a family-integrated church this past Sunday.

I have been convicted of the need of family-integrated worship for a relatively short time, but Paul and I had not been able to experience the atmosphere in real life. (It is one thing to read about it in books, it is another thing entirely to be there in reality!) It was such a blessing to see so many children in attendance.

The entire time we were at our former church (where Paul pastored in IL) our children were in worship with everyone else. So, I have been working with them for 3 years. And, before that I would take 2 year old Rebecca to seminary chapel services. I have had hard days, to be sure, but I thought my kids were doing pretty well.

Now, I see how much more improving we need to do! The children who are regular attenders of Covenant Family Church were SO very quiet, even the babies! I am filled with a longing to know "How do they do that?!" People have often asked Paul and myself that question, and I thought we were doing very well. But, yesterday I saw just how much better they could be! And, not only in church worship, but in fellowship at someone's home afterwards!

We were invited to go to Pastor Marcus Serven's home for dinner and fellowship (that's right - they invited over complete strangers!) It was a fabulous time, except that the kids (mostly Nelson) mortified us! Well, it wasn't the kids so much as it was knowing that we were the most immature parents in the bunch.

I long for older women to teach me and train me. Since we started having kids (then added another, and another) friends have been looking to us as a model. That is so much pressure since I myself do not have a model! I have the Bible, and I have books - but no real-life woman.

Paul and I are greatly stirred by what we have seen. Though we are embarrassed to recall how our kids behaved, we were sharpened by the experience. What would it be like to go to that type of church atmosphere every week? The kind people at that church could teach us much about marriage and parenthood!

We are talking about what this may mean for our family... Do we stay where we have been attending, as an example to others (a very poor example at times)? Do we go to another church where we ourselves can be fed and nourished with both the preaching of the Word and with real life living it out? Could God be leading us a new direction in life? Could God be showing us what type of atmosphere Paul may be serving in, in the not-so-near future? So many questions... so few answers.

Saturday, November 8, 2008

Love - it is key

If you have been reading my blog for long, then you know that I am a changed woman from the time this blog began. Every day I realize something new about myself... something that has changed. There were immediate changes, and some that I realized more slowly.

Just this week we were in the van and I asked Paul, "Do you remember how I used to hate everyone and everything?" He answered a hearty "yes," as though how could he forget such a thing. I am amazed at this change! I used to be so irritable all the time. I used to be so easily annoyed at every little thing. I screamed at my kids all day long. This screaming was rooted in my own selfishness! Little annoyances like spilled milk would make me irate.

The day after God changed my heart I called a good friend of mine who knows me better than most people (she lived on the other side of a duplex from us!). Through joyful tears I explained what had happened to me. My exact words were "If I didn't know any better, I would say that I was not even a Christian before, but I am now." There are times that I can look back and see that I was actively serving the Lord, but during these times I was not under the serious refining fires that I am now (meaning I was not married, I had no children, I was not always sick and tired).

I believe that someone who loves the Lord and longs to serve Him will want to spend time reading His Word! I think that if we really love the Lord that we will not make excuses to get out of reading the Bible and praying. Yet, after I got married, and after I had kids I never made time to read my Bible. (Not regularly anyway).

So, what am I saying - I was allowing many things to choke out my love for the Lord like weeds. If I was saved, I certainly had no power to change. And, how is that possible? If the Holy Spirit is in you - there is power!

Still, most shocking is my own lack of love in the former days. I would say "I hate..." about so many things and occasionally people. The Bible makes it clear that if you love God you cannot hate people! (Read I John 2:9, on second thought - read the whole book!) Seriously, I hated everything. I hated my house, my van, my husband (from time to time), my kids (most of the time), my very life (all the time). I am being brutally honest here, because I want to be able to help others! I do not think that all my pain was for nothing! I believe that I am here, on this blog, to tell others my story and tell others HIS story. I want to lead other people to the Lord!

This is a relatively new desire for me. I now pray every day for lost people that I know by name. I pray for the supermarket cashiers, I pray for Taco Bell employees - you get the idea. I love everyone and I want to see everyone in love with the Lord and truly satisfied! My heart breaks for people like never before!
I want to ask you, friend - do you love people? Do you care that people around you are dying and heading to hell?

You may have noticed that the emphasis of this blog has changed of late. I still desire to encourage ladies in their walk with the Lord - that has not changed. But, also, I want to make sure that the Gospel message is presented on my blog clearly. I love my readers, especially the ones who post the nasty comments that never get posted. I hurt when I think that there are other ladies out there feeling like I used to!

If you hate everything, if you hate people, please listen to me. There is a better way to live! You do not have to keep hating life. You do not have to keep yelling at your kids! If you are a professing Christian - God wants better things for you! You are to be the salt of the earth, and a light to the world! (Matthew 5:13) Beg the Lord to forgive you. Beg the Lord to enable you to live better. Here's how (it is not a formula, but it is a starting point) - Jesus says in John 15:4-5 says to Abide in me, and I in you. As the branch cannot bear fruit of itself, except it abide in the vine; no more can ye, except ye abide in me. I am the vine, ye are the branches: He that abideth in me, and I in him, the same bringeth forth much fruit: for without me ye can do nothing. John 15:4-5 (KJV) We can do nothing without His power enabling us! I firmly believe that the most excellent way to tap into this power (to be the branch off of His vine) is to read the Bible everyday. I cannot tell you how much this can change your life! I cannot state it strongly enough - reading the Bible will cause you to change!

Let these verses encourage you :
So shall my word be that goeth forth out of my mouth: it shall not return unto me void, but it shall accomplish that which I please, and it shall prosper in the thing whereto I sent it.Isaiah 55:11 (KJV)

For the word of God is quick, and powerful, and sharper than any twoedged sword, piercing even to the dividing asunder of soul and spirit, and of the joints and marrow, and is a discerner of the thoughts and intents of the heart. Neither is there any creature that is not manifest in his sight: but all things are naked and opened unto the eyes of him with whom we have to do.Heb 4:12-13 (KJV)

You cannot read the Word of God and walk away unchanged, unless you are like the man mentioned in James 1:22-25 But be ye doers of the word, and not hearers only, deceiving your own selves. For if any be a hearer of the word, and not a doer, he is like unto a man beholding his natural face in a glass: For he beholdeth himself, and goeth his way, and straightway forgetteth what manner of man he was. But whoso looketh into the perfect law of liberty, and continueth therein, he being not a forgetful hearer, but a doer of the work, this man shall be blessed in his deed.
And, if you get really brave, read the next verse - If any man among you seem to be religious, and bridleth not his tongue, but deceiveth his own heart, this man's religion is vain.James 1:26 (KJV)

This is meant to encourage you, not judge you. I am here to help you gain strength for your long journey of faith, not to cripple you! If you have comments or questions, I am here for you. But, I will never be able to answer questions as well as the Bible itself can! I encourage you to go read it now. Not only that, I encourage you to take on something that I have recently - Make reading your Bible such a priority that you would not get on the computer until after you read the Bible!!! I have one friend who mentioned not eating until you have read your Bible. I encourage you to get some type of accountability in this area! Without the Bible we cannot know God.

Friday, November 7, 2008

How do I know if I am saved?

If at any point you need more clarification on what salvation is and how to "be saved" then please read my post entitled Why do I need to be saved?/What am I saved from?. This post is mostly for people who think they are saved, but are unsure. But, I have also included enough for someone who does not even know what it means to be "saved." Please, keep reading, there is something here for everyone.

The book of First John, in the Bible, is something of a litmus test to see if you are a Christian. As he is preparing to end his letter, John writes:
These things have I written unto you that believe on the name of the Son of God; that ye may know that ye have eternal life, and that ye may believe on the name of the Son of God. (1 John 5:13)
I am starting with the end, instead of the beginning of the book to establish that what I write below, bit and pieces of I John, will either establish you as a Christian who is "saved" (that is, safe from eternal damnation) or whether you are not a Christian. Entire volumes could be written about First John, today I undertake a mere survey.

Believe that Jesus is the Christ, the Messiah, God's Son.
Whosoever believeth that Jesus is the Christ is born of God: and every one that loveth him that begat loveth him also that is begotten of him. 1 John 5:1
We also see that:
He that hath the Son hath life; and he that hath not the Son of God hath not life. 1 John 5:12
This entails more than a mere belief in Jesus' deity, it involves all of the other things mentioned in I John as indicators of salvation.

First of all, do you think you are a sinner? A sinner is a person who sins. And, sin is transgression against God's laws, that is - someone who disobeys God's rules. First John 3:4 is a definition of sin:
Whosoever committeth sin transgresseth also the law: for sin is the transgression of the law
First John 1:8 says
"If we say that we have no sin, we deceive ourselves, and the truth is not in us."
If you have never admitted that you are a sinner, then you are not a Christian. To be a Christian, you first have to admit that you are indeed a sinner.

Have you confessed your sins to God? Once you realize that you are a sinner, that you have disobeyed God, then you need to admit that to God. Of course, He already knows you are a sinner, but He wants to hear you say it. He wants you to tell Him that you are sorry.
If we confess our sins, he is faithful and just to forgive us our sins, and to cleanse us from all unrighteousness. (1 John 1:9)
This needs to be more than a mere apology. This is an apology that has with it determination to really change and be different. The word that Christians use to describe this change is "repent" or "repentance." The Apostle Paul writes in the book of Romans,
if thou shalt confess with thy mouth the Lord Jesus, and shalt believe in thine heart that God hath raised him from the dead, thou shalt be saved. For with the heart man believeth unto righteousness; and with the mouth confession is made unto salvation. (Romans 10:9-10)
Have you been baptized? We are commanded to be baptized as a sign to ourselves, God, and everyone else that we are saved. These verses are from the book of Acts,
Repent, and be baptized every one of you in the name of Jesus Christ for the remission of sins, and ye shall receive the gift of the Holy Ghost. For the promise is unto you, and to your children, and to all that are afar off, even as many as the Lord our God shall call. And with many other words did he testify and exhort, saying, Save yourselves from this untoward generation. Then they that gladly received his word were baptized: and the same day there were added unto them about three thousand souls. (Acts 2:38-41)
Do you read the Bible and keep its commandments? First John 2:3-5 says,
And hereby we do know that we know him, if we keep his commandments. He that saith, I know him, and keepeth not his commandments, is a liar, and the truth is not in him. But whoso keepeth his word, in him verily is the love of God perfected: hereby know we that we are in him. John also says that, For this is the love of God, that we keep his commandments: and his commandments are not grievous. (1 John 5:3)
These verses show that we need to keep God's commandments. And, to know what His commandments are we need to be reading His Word - that is, the Bible. God's Holy Spirit, which He gives to believers, will help us to obey His rules.
And he that keepeth his commandments dwelleth in Him, and He in him. And hereby we know that He abideth in us, by the Spirit which He hath given us. (1 John 3:24)
I read this to mean that if we have the Holy Spirit we are saved, and we know we have the Holy Spirit when we keep God's commandments - because we cannot do it without His help!

Do you love people? Throughout First John we see a description of being in the light verses being in darkness. A Christian is a person who lives in the light. A person in darkness is a person who does not love God, a person who will go to Hell when they die. So, what does it look like for a person to live in the light? How do I know if I am one of those in the light? Read this -
He that saith he is in the light, and hateth his brother, is in darkness even until now. (1 John 2:9)
In a later verse we read that
He that loveth not his brother abideth in death. (1 John 3:14)
As I said in a previous post, we cannot fake love. And, love is a huge indicator of a changed life!
My little children, let us not love in word, neither in tongue; but in deed and in truth. And hereby we know that we are of the truth, and shall assure our hearts before him.
(1 John 3:18-19)
You can have assurance of your salvation if you love people!
Here are some verses that get to the heart of the matter (pardon the pun):
Beloved, let us love one another: for love is of God; and every one that loveth is born of God, and knoweth God. He that loveth not knoweth not God; for God is love. (1 John 4:7-8)
There you have it - if you do not love people, then you do not love or even know God (because to know God is to love God!)
If we love one another, God dwelleth in us, and his love is perfected in us. (1 John 4:12)
You cannot love sinful things. Here is a description of what worldliness means to God. (I need to define one word before you read these verses. John uses the word "world" to mean the evil things in this world - as the verses will themselves explain).
Love not the world, neither the things that are in the world. If any man love the world, the love of the Father is not in him. For all that is in the world, the lust of the flesh, and the lust of the eyes, and the pride of life, is not of the Father, but is of the world. And the world passeth away, and the lust thereof: but he that doeth the will of God abideth for ever. (1 John 2:15-17)
God calls us to be different from everyone else in the world. We are not to live by our lusts and by our pride. We should not make our life decisions because of how it would appease our lusts and our pride. We need to live and find our purpose in living for the things of God. In fact, John says that we may seem completely unrecognizable the the world.
Behold, what manner of love the Father hath bestowed upon us, that we should be called the sons of God: therefore the world knoweth us not, because it knew him not. (1 John 3:1)
The word "know" in that verse can mean "to understand." People will not understand Christians, we are different! We are holy, because God is Holy (Read I Peter 1:13-16).

If we know that the world will not understand us, if we know that we cannot be like the world - then, why do we try so hard to fit in and be just like everyone else? Everything about Christians should stand out as different: our speech, dress, activities, hobbies, homes, kids. This is NOT just a negative thing. It is not just about "you can't do this" or "don't do that." Jesus Christ died and rose from the dead to bring us life and freedom, not just a list of dos and don'ts! A Christian ought to have more peace and joy than anyone else he knows! (And, if you don't have more joy than someone who is clearly unsaved, then there is something wrong! Keep reading). So, it is not merely through denial of earthly things that others will know (and we can know) that we are saved! It is very much about acquiring good things about you (love, joy, peace, patience - to name a few! Read Galatians chapter 5 where it compares a life lived for God through the power of His Holy Spirit, verses a life lived for your own pleasure).

A Christian has hope!
A Christian can have hope in life and in death! If you are a professing Christian that fears death and the possibility of going to hell - there is something wrong. I am not talking about your concerns of leaving your family - none of us wants to abandon our loved ones. I am saying that if you fear that right now dying means a possible separation from God and hope - you need to question whether you are really saved.
Beloved, now are we the sons of God, and it doth not yet appear what we shall be: but we know that, when He shall appear, we shall be like Him; for we shall see Him as He is. And every man that hath this hope in him purifieth himself, even as he is pure.
(1 John 3:2-3)
This next verse could have been put in the hope or the love category -
Herein is our love made perfect, that we may have boldness in the day of judgment: because as he is, so are we in this world. There is no fear in love; but perfect love casteth out fear: because fear hath torment. He that feareth is not made perfect in love. (1 John 4:17-18)
You do not need to fear death, you should not fear death. If you do fear death/judgement then John said that person is "not made perfect in love." And, as John points out, GOD IS LOVE (5:8). Therefore, if you are made perfect in God you do not fear death. (This is one of the examples in Scripture where the word "perfect" means "complete" or "finished.") I am saying that your salvation may not yet be complete if you fear death and judgement for yourself.

We all need to read all of the Bible to truly understand God and the salvation He offers us. And, this has been a brief overview of First John. But, remember what John says about the letter he has written... he wrote it that we may KNOW we are saved (I John 5:13).

You can know and you can have peace in your salvation. If you can read the book of First John and know that you are (by God's grace) trying to be more like the word picture he has painted, then you can have assurance. If your life is marked by love and following God's commands, then you can have assurance. But, if you fear all the more from reading I John, then you are likely not yet saved. And, if you are so scared that you will not read the book at all, then you are not likely saved. I do not like saying those words! I know that I am hurting some of my readers. Yet, I would inflict this pain on you if it brings you closer to salvation! My goal is not to judge anyone. I do not sit in the judgment seat! I am just trying to draw some lines in the sand to help you see things more clearly.

Let me pray for you,
Lord Jesus, I ask that, in your mercy, you would show my readers if they truly be saved. So many people are unsure and it breaks my heart! Oh, God, that You would make things clear to each one who reads my blog. I ask that you would bring to repentance and salvation the ones who do not yet know you. And, if there be any who think they are saved, yet they cannot pass this "litmus test" in I John, then I beg you to convict them all the more and bring them to true repentance, true change, true forgiveness, true love, true knowledge of you. I ask that you would cause my readers who are believers to proclaim the Good News of their salvation from every rooftop. I beg that you would make me and my Christian readers more vocal about our faith. Cause us not to worry about offending others, what is offense compared to someone's eternity in hell? Give us the boldness that your Holy Spirit brings, the boldness that we see in the book of Acts each time the Holy Spirit comes in power. Use me, Lord, and use my Christian readers to draw others to Yourself.

Read a great poem on this topic by John Newton here.

Thursday, November 6, 2008

Lewis and Clark expedition

On Monday, Paul and I took the kids and my folks to Harley Park in Boonville, MO to see a point of interest on the Lewis and Clark Expedition. What a fantastic way to homeschool! The kids ran all around and spent all their energy trying to outdo one another. I briefly read the signs to them, and explained the importance of the river before semi trucks! I plan to go back another day and go into more detail. That is the joy of homeschooling!

Paul keeps Lydia warm. Speaking of warmth... you noticed my husband's beard, huh? Well, he's trying to keep warm for winter. He does this every year and shaves it in April or May.

Saturday, November 1, 2008

What next?

My life in a country home sure is varied! I am not referring to company or anything like that... at least not human company. I am speaking of things in and near my house... creatures.
If you are squeamish about any creatures or reptiles - do not read any further.

When we first moved in we had oodles of spiders to contend with, including brown recluse. The next week we were invaded by crickets (they kept me awake at night). The next week the spiders and crickets disappeared, we thought it was the changing weather. Nope, it was something noisy in the crawl space, something that eats bugs... we had an opossum. (From this point on I revert to country talk and call the thing a 'possum.) Anyway, we heard something in the crawl space and in our heating ducts for a few nights before we found out what it was. Those were some sleepless, tear-filled nights. I just knew it was a huge rat. I knew it was heavy enough to be heard moving, I knew it had long nails (because it scratched at our vents to get in!!!) Oh, horrors! Then, the next afternoon, Paul got into the crawl space and found a cute critter sleeping... the possum woke up and proved himself to be not-so-cute-afterall, right before Paul shot him with the 22. Had that been a pregnant female it could have up to 14 young after a 2 week gestation period!!! (Homeschoolers learn such neat things...)

The possum was gone, but then we started hearing tiny scratching that indicates small rodents. Now, you need to know that I am mouse-a-phobic! When I hear the faintest scratching sounds in the attic or a wall I start my fight-or-flight response. My heart throbs, my face turns red, and I act completely irrationally... If I see a mouse I am sobbing and jumping on furniture. Unfortunately, I am NOT exaggerating, I really do have a phobia. I cannot be in a room when people tell their I-saw-a-mouse-stories, and I cannot stay in a home long that has mousetraps set out. And, if I see mouse droppings on your counters or in your cupboards - well, let's just say I may find some excuse to leave... quickly. I don't know when this irrational fear started (yes I know it is irrational, but I cannot stop it). All I know is that I have NO control over it.
Anyway, I heard a mouse in the attic... I was perturbed, but I didn't pack my bags to move out. I went to bed and covered my ears and begged God to send away all the mice. We started letting in the cats on occasion (thinking that maybe just the smell of predators would keep the varmints away). Well, it seemed to work. No more mice, no scratching noises, no dropping, they didn't even touch the poison...

I never stopped to think HOW the mice went away - it was an answer to prayer, of course.

Last night, at dinner, we heard a noise in the cellar. "What was that?!" Paul yells. I said, "a mason jar was knocked off the shelf by something." I forced Paul to go down and see how big the rat or possum was this time... he was sure it was just a cat that knocked over the jar while mousing. (It was a mason jar, by the way, I guessed correctly). It was a snake. I am shouting, "Don't kill it Paul, he eats my mice!" Paul is yelling back up the stairs, "get me the camera, we gotta identify it... oh no, he just went up the wall." He hustles up the stairs to make sure the snake can't/didn't get into the house itself. Satisfied, he went back down with the camera. He later identified a Black Rat Snake. We let him live. I may regret this... If I ever see him in my actual house/living quarters, I will not feel quite so happy to see him... but, still - I prefer a snake to a mouse.

All this adventure - city living must be boring compared to all this excitement!