Uptight, Upright, Homeschool Girls

The latest No Greater Joy magazine was published a few moments ago and I took a look, not expecting to read what I did.

http://nogreaterjoy.org/articles/part-2-want-get-married/

The article was about homeschool girls, you know, the very “spiritual” kind. Yes, I am one of them. Time and life has changed me a lot but that’s somehow a big part of who I am still.

For homeschool girls like myself, we do tend to be very picky and judgmental, not only with relationships but with friendships and a thousand other things. The guys I know from a similar background have a more relaxed approach!

See, there are two contrasting ideas. One is that a Prince Charming somehow exists somewhere out there, someone who meets every one of our expectations to the letter. Anyone who comes along who doesn’t meet these expectations is a distraction by the Evil One.

The other idea, propagated by the Pearls, is that there is no such thing as a “perfect man”. No unmarried man is that mature, they argue, it takes time. Marriage makes a boy into a man (I would differ with that of course). God may have someone for you who is not your “ideal”.

One thing I know for sure, all our ideals that we somehow thing can guarantee us a happy marriage and a righteous husband are just that – ideals. We in the homeschooled movement have learned that people who say all the right things, have all the “right convictions” and tick all the right boxes are just as sinful and flawed as everyone else. Are we not all saved by the grace of God?

Life has taught me to be less restricted and judgmental, to stop putting people and ideas into boxes and making moral decisions about everything.

The Pearls suggest that homeschooled young ladies get out of our bubble, our very limited social group full of people who live and believe exactly the same as we do down to the letter.

For me, socially, this has been a very good experience. I have gotten to know people who are very different, and learned to be a better person because of it.

Don’t take it in a sense that we forget all our convictions and that we don’t rely on the Holy Spirit. Don’t take it in a sense that we should marry any man, as long as he is male, without applying any discernment whatsoever. It just means we have to get out of this boxed-in mindset. God doesn’t just work only in our narrow little definition of what a Christian is and we shouldn’t either.

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I Must Decrease

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And they came unto John, and said unto him, Rabbi, he that was with thee beyond Jordan, to whom thou barest witness, behold, the same baptizeth, and all men come to him.
(John 3:26)
He must increase, but I must decrease.
(John 3:30)

The verse above offers a lot of food for thought. It is something to meditate upon and apply in our own lives.

How often we long to increase, to expand, go gain power and authority! And yet, how often do we need to learn to decrease. If we had the humility of John, what a great thing that will be!

John saw his role was to decrease, to pave and prepare the way of Yeshua to come. He was the opposite of the men and women at Babel, who sought to create a monument for themselves, to be praised and exalted for all time.

And they said, Go to, let us build us a city and a tower, whose top may reach unto heaven; and let us make us a name, lest we be scattered abroad upon the face of the whole earth.
(Genesis 11:4)

And yet, we are to live as “dead” to ourselves but “alive” to God. How powerful, yet how profound!

I am crucified with Christ: nevertheless I live; yet not I, but Christ liveth in me: and the life which I now live in the flesh I live by the faith of the Son of God, who loved me, and gave himself for me.
(Galatians 2:20)

 

Watching Over Me

A thought suddenly struck me today: what if I was an atheist, what if I didn’t believe in God? I understand why a lot of people end up being atheist or agnostic – because religion has often been cruel and corrupt. A lot of people have been hurt by churches, institutions, and people who use God’s name but who end up bringing shame (quite the opposite of our good works bringing Him glory). A lot of people feel that God is cruel and corrupt, just like us.

But the fact is that God is a loving Father. To have a loving Father in my life is literally the best thing ever. I could not imagine my life without Him, guiding me, watching over me, blessing me, protecting me. And He loves all of us whether we love Him or not – He longs to gather us like a hen gathers her chicks, because we are His children.

There have been so many times in my life, from the little incidents to the large, where I have recognized God at work. And I am so thankful. Psalm 91 says a “thousand may fall at your side, and ten thousand at your right hand”. But evil will not come near us!

In my distress (Psalm 120:1), I can call upon Him and He hears me. Imagine if you are in a desperate situation where no one can help you and you have no one to call upon. Yet we have a Heavenly Father who hears us – how reassuring is that?

There are many people who know about God but who don’t know God or have a personal relationship with Him. Yet, I firmly believe that we are all at different stages in our journeys. I hope you will be encouraged to grow in faith by talking to God, asking Him for guidance, asking Him for help – these experiences of seeking Him, asking from Him, knocking at His door – will only strengthen us and give us a deep, real, relationship with Him.

Their Examples… Women in the Bible

Screenshot (3)One thing that’s very good is to look into the Bible and look at the examples of men and women. This is an excellent exercise to do with young Christians or young people even children. We don’t have to wait until puberty, for example, to start encouraging young boys and girls to be men and women after God’s own heart, to be His disciples. While we tend to want to pick out the good examples, however, the Bible is full of flawed people who make mistakes. Yet, God’s will was done through them.

  1. Not just for girls! Boys and girls need to learn about women in the Bible. Boys, so they  know, for example.  We’re making a mistake if we only teach Proverbs 31 to our young women and forget to teach it to our young men.
  2. Be admonished! What can we learn from negative examples such as Lot’s wife and Jezebel?
  3. Be encouraged! God often used women who were not perfect. Rahab was a harlot. Ruth was a pagan. Bathsheba was an adulterous. Mary was, in society’s eyes, an unwed mother. And yet all of them were instrumental in the line of David and our Messiah.  Basically, there’s no reason why God cannot choose you or I. Eve, Sarah, Rebecca and many other women weren’t perfect- they made mistakes, and yet were a part of God’s plan.
  4. Be convicted! Women like Mary (well, all of them!), Anna, Priscilla, etc. show us that we can be living our lives for a much higher purpose and their examples challenge us on to faith, discipleship and service.

We don’t need to buy fancy books or devotional series, especially for kids. The pure word of God is so powerful. Just open the Bible, read it, discuss it. Ask, what can we learn? What can we apply? What is God saying? Discover and construct meanings together. Write them down, maybe some charts, create an idea-map, journal or lapbook. Don’t think of all the answers and lessons then dictate them to your kids – instead, really look into the Bible together and let the Holy Spirit, who is in them as much as you, bring revelation.

Jesus Calls Us O’er the Tumult 

​Jesus calls us: o’er the tumult

of our life’s wild, restless sea;

day by day his sweet voice soundeth

saying, “Christian, follow me.”
2 Jesus calls us from the worship

of the vain world’s golden store,

from each idol that would keep us,

saying, “Christian, love me more.”
3 In our joys and in our sorrows,

days of toil and hours of ease,

still he calls, in cares and pleasures,

“Christian, love me more than these.”
4 Jesus calls us: by thy mercies,

Savior, may we hear thy call,

give our hearts to thy obedience,

serve and love thee best of all.

Here is another deeply encouraging hymn about discipleship.  I always keep my eyes open for them. 

Recently I have started occasionally attending a traditional Anglican Church for morning prayer and holy communion, depending on the Sunday. It’s a beautiful, ancient grey building, vastly different from the simply “unchurched” fellowship back home. 

Traditional churches get a lot of criticism, but I feel there’s always something you can benefit from a church and fellowship of believers, spiritually. No church is or can be perfect and sometimes it’s good just to recognise that we can fellowship with all who call on Jesus Christ, adhere to the basic creed of our faith and teach + practice discipleship. 

Forth in the Peace of Christ We Go

This hymn is rich with meaning.

1 – Forth in the peace of Christ we go;
Christ to the world with joy we bring;
Christ in our minds, Christ on our lips,
Christ in our hearts, the world’s true King.

2 – King of our hearts, Christ makes us kings;
kingship with him his servants gain;
with Christ, the Servant-Lord of all,
Christ’s world we serve to share Christ’s reign.

3 – Priests of the world, Christ sends us forth
this world of time to consecrate,
our world of sin by grace to heal,
Christ’s world in Christ to re-create.

4 – Prophets of Christ, we hear his Word:
he claims our minds to search his ways;
he claims our lips to speak his truth;
he claims our hearts to sing his praise.

5 – We are his Church, he makes us one:
here is one hearth for all to find;
here is one flock, one Shepherd-King;
here is one faith, one heart, one mind.

By James Quinn

Lessons in Generosity

Let brotherly love continue.
(Hebrews 13:1)

I believe, in the last few weeks, the Lord has been teaching me to be generous, reminding me that blessings and abundance allow us the privilege of sharing.

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Sometimes, I feel like being generous means you’re open to being taken advantage of. Especially if you give and share, and, at the back of your mind, you take notice that people never seem to return your “generosity”, and you start to get calculative… And grumble. And tell God you think you’re being taken advantage of. And then when the opportunity arises again to share with someone you’re just a tad bit reluctant on the inside, even if you don’t show it on the outside.

And if ye lend to them of whom ye hope to receive, what thank have ye? for sinners also lend to sinners, to receive as much again. But love ye your enemies, and do good, and lend, hoping for nothing again; and your reward shall be great, and ye shall be the children of the Highest: for he is kind unto the unthankful and to the evil.
(Luke 6:34-35)

Then, of course, when you get to know people better you start to see  more of what God sees (that you don’t see). And then you realise why you were led to share with them in the first place!

I’ve started to see more than people, people who on the outside seem just like me – normal, happy, well-adjusted, prosperous… When you get to know people, you find that they have needs that you can meet and areas you can bless them, whether in term of physical health, emotional health, physical poverty or lack… or just a need for help. Not that I can do much except be a friend, share what I can, listen to people…

There’s a joy that comes from living a generous life, and that’s what the Lord is teaching me. I feel like He’s saying that “I’ve blessed you, I want you to live selflessly and bless others”. Not in a way that makes me look good, of course! Not to boost my self-esteem or whatever.

Amazingly, He has shown Himself to be my provider. While I’ve chosen to live frugally and to stretch my pennies, He’s just abundantly provided for me in more ways than I can describe, one amazing gift after the other… more than I could create for myself or achieve through my own “cunning”. And it feels so overwhelming.

So miraculous is this that I want to throw my hands towards heaven and say, “God, I want to live like this. I want to give and live sacrificially, to be a “man for others” like Jesus was”. Of course, once I’ve said this, He’s probably going to test me and challenge me in ways less convenient.

Then said he also to him that bade him, When thou makest a dinner or a supper, call not thy friends, nor thy brethren, neither thy kinsmen, nor thy rich neighbours; lest they also bid thee again, and a recompence be made thee. But when thou makest a feast, call the poor, the maimed, the lame, the blind: And thou shalt be blessed; for they cannot recompense thee: for thou shalt be recompensed at the resurrection of the just.
(Luke 14:12-14)

Consecrated Living

 

Youtube recently recommended loads of videos about “discerning my calling/vocation” because of my watch history. Naturally curious, I watched many of them and was touched. The lives of the Catholic sisters who live to love Jesus and serve others presents an honest challenge to my own life. Am I adoring Jesus and worshiping at His feet? Am I earnestly praying? Am I truly serving others with humility and steadfastness?

These videos are seriously tempting me! Or at least tantalizing me with ways the life of discipleship is lived out. I’m really encouraged, though I’ll take take up a habit or make the vows of poverty, chastity and obedience.

My conviction is this: to live the life of following Jesus radically. This means poverty. This means chastity to some extent (as the fixation of my life onto one goal, that is Him). That means obedience.

The call of discipleship is the call to the cross. We hear the one who makes the call, Jesus, and supernaturally encounter Him in our lives. He transforms us, changes us, gives us a new life so that henceforth we are not longer the same. We are no longer our own, but His. And He makes us His disciples – calling us, ordaining us, consecrating us for His divine use.

Each of us is called to live in the world, and yet not to be of it. We are called instead to go into the world, every crevice and corner of it where there are souls and to proclaim the gospel with confidence, teaching all nations, baptizing and discipling them in the name of the Father, Son and Holy Spirit.

And each of us to called to be part of the Christian community, to love one another as He has loved us, knit us together as a household or a family. People from polar-opposite backgrounds – we show the world what unity and peace means.

The three biggest imperatives commanded by Jesus are the love of God, the love of our brethren, and the love of our neighbor. These loves do not come from us. They are similar to contemplative life, community living, and active service, aren’t they?

 

Christian Justice and Ethics

God earnestly cares about each of His children. Rich or poor, we are His creation.

In all their affliction he was afflicted, and the angel of his presence saved them: in his love and in his pity he redeemed them; and he bare them, and carried them all the days of old.
(Isaiah 63:9)

Surely he hath borne our griefs, and carried our sorrows: yet we did esteem him stricken, smitten of God, and afflicted.
(Isaiah 53:4)

There is so much going in the world today that pains and angers God. When we looks at us, our world, and our nations, what does He see? Does He see righteousness?

Oh let the wickedness of the wicked come to an end; but establish the just: for the righteous God trieth the hearts and reins. My defence is of God, which saveth the upright in heart. God judgeth the righteous, and God is angry with the wicked every day.
(Psalms 7:9-11)

For I the LORD love judgment, I hate robbery for burnt offering; and I will direct their work in truth, and I will make an everlasting covenant with them.
(Isaiah 61:8)

God sees injustice. If we are unjustly treated, He sees, He knows, and He feels it. How comforting is that thought! Even if we think we are all alone, we truly are not!

Today, in the world, for example, millions of destitute laborers live in insufferable conditions, caused by the wickedness of greedy men. Many are enslaved, many are not paid fairly, and a great many people are not being treated with basic human dignity. I know that foreign workers in many bustling, growing cities die every day from dangerous work conditions, and those that risk their lives earn a bare pittance. Plus, they endure great physical hardship, suffering and abuse. God. Hates. This.

Go to now, ye rich men, weep and howl for your miseries that shall come upon you.

Your riches are corrupted, and your garments are motheaten.

Your gold and silver is cankered; and the rust of them shall be a witness against you, and shall eat your flesh as it were fire.

Ye have heaped treasure together for the last days.

Behold, the hire of the labourers who have reaped down your fields, which is of you kept back by fraud, crieth: and the cries of them which have reaped are entered into the ears of the Lord of sabaoth.

Ye have lived in pleasure on the earth, and been wanton; ye have nourished your hearts, as in a day of slaughter.

Ye have condemned and killed the just; and he doth not resist you.

Be patient therefore, brethren, unto the coming of the Lord.

Behold, the husbandman waiteth for the precious fruit of the earth, and hath long patience for it, until he receive the early and latter rain.

Be ye also patient; stablish your hearts: for the coming of the Lord draweth nigh.
(James 5:1-8)

I love the book of James because its clarity and directness – it speaks to us on the simplest and most relevant of matters that are of importance to God. One of these is the fact that the rich in this world grow fat at the expense of those who labour and earn nothing. This is a sad fact of human greed.

And yet we have a greater promise – those who are deprived of their portion in this life can look to a better, brighter, and glorious future in the Kingdom of Heaven.

 

However, it is expedient that we are Christians live ethically, that we do not profit off the work of others and that we do not abuse the helpless and defenceless.  Even if we *think* we can get away with it because some people have no advocate, God is the ultimate judge and we need a healthy dose of the “fear of the Lord” that inspires wisdom.

He hath shewed thee, O man, what is good; and what doth the LORD require of thee, but to do justly, and to love mercy, and to walk humbly with thy God?
(Micah 6:8)

This is something that we need to be preaching and living out as Christians. We need to do our part, and our churches need to be preaching this message.

 

He hath shewed thee, O man, what is good; and what doth the LORD require of thee, but to do justly, and to love mercy, and to walk humbly with thy God?
(Micah 6:8)

For it is written in the law of Moses, Thou shalt not muzzle the mouth of the ox that treadeth out the corn. Doth God take care for oxen?
(1 Corinthians 9:9)

The Spirit of the Lord is upon me, because he hath anointed me to preach the gospel to the poor; he hath sent me to heal the brokenhearted, to preach deliverance to the captives, and recovering of sight to the blind, to set at liberty them that are bruised, To preach the acceptable year of the Lord.
(Luke 4:18-19)

This is not just a commandment: it is the core of our testimony before the world.

By this shall all men know that ye are my disciples, if ye have love one to another.
(John 13:35)

 

Who do we love? Our neighbour.

Who is our neighbour?

 

 

Homesteading for Beginners

Screenshot (13)Simple, do-it-yourself living skills are something that I feel is wise for a young lady to learn, and a worthy pursuit. The Bible speaks often of working with our hands as well as being diligent and resourceful. A plain, back-to-basics lifestyle can be one that is compatible with that of a disciple, especially since our increasingly wealth-obsessed and commercial world presents many temptations and dangers for Christians to stray from the narrow path.

As a long-time member of the online community, the Homestead Community Pos run by Mark and Erin Harrison, I have gotten to know them through the internet as well as learn from their homesteading DVDs. I always felt even through the long physical distance, that Mr. and Mrs. Harrison were incredibly sincere and committed believers with a great deal of wisdom, honesty, and down-to-earth humility. They choose to share simple joys, like their yearly garden harvests, on the internet, to encourage other fathers, mothers, families, Christians and homesteaders.

Recently, they started sharing their videos freely on Youtube, providing a marvelous resource to families interested in developing homestead skills. I am thoroughly enjoying each installment. Do check out Mrs. Harrison’s blog, Keeper of the Homestead, as well.