A BIG Transition

Yesterday I noted that every living thing changes. That’s true of families just like it is of organizations. Laura and I announced a fairly major family change on my Facebook last week and it’s generated enough questions to warrant a more thorough explanation.

What was the major family change? Well, since our oldest daughter was 4 years old, we’ve been a homeschooling family. She graduates from high school this month, and we’ve had all four of our kids at home for school for over a decade. But next month our oldest will enroll in college full time, our son will enroll in the local middle school and our youngest daughters will head to the local elementary school.

If you don’t care why, then thanks for reading and I would appreciate your prayers as we transition. 🙂

If you do care, allow me to explain. I explain not to justify but just to offer insight into our process and our priorities. If it helps you assess your process and priorities, no matter your schooling decisions for your kids, then I am excited for that.

We have been enthusiastic but not militant homeschoolers for a long time. For us, it has always boiled down to the truth that we wanted Christ in our curriculum, we wanted the kids to be able to learn without peer pressure, and we wanted them to be able to work at a pace that was good for them. But we also always said that we would re-evaluate every child every year. And this fall, as we evaluated our family and our kids, we decided that the best education and experience that they could get would be in a public school. There are several reasons for that.

Number one, we felt that it was best for our kids at this time. Jesus said, “I am sending you out as sheep in the midst of wolves, so be wise as serpents and innocent as doves.” (Matthew 10:16, ESV) We have worked hard to help our kids stand firm in Christ and know Him. They are “as innocent as doves.” But what they aren’t is as wise as serpents, and it’s time in our eyes for them to get a little of that exposure. Plus, our son wants to play football in high school and our girls want to learn musical instruments. 🙂 They can do that from home as well, but this is far easier and probably better for them.

Second, and I don’t say this lightly, my amazing and talented and beautiful and incredible wife was diagnosed with clinical depression this fall. Now, I tell you that simply to brag on my wife a bit for being strong enough to come forward, find hope in Christ and seek healing. That takes incredible guts and also takes real concentration and focused effort.

Go read the link above from WebMD and ask yourself if you could be successful as a teacher while dealing with that. I know I couldn’t be.

Third, given the first two we looked at our kids and felt that our homeschool was just not being as successful as we want it to be. It wasn’t structured enough for our needs, and the kids weren’t getting the education we want them to with teachers who are excited about their subject and teaching in general.

Finally, Laura wants to pursue her dream of being a midwife. That will take time and effort to go to school, and she feels like she serves Christ when she is in the birthing community. I want to encourage that and so do our kids.

So to help our whole family serve Christ more fully, we decided the best thing for us right now is for the kids to go to public school. We’re excited for our kids to love on their schoolmates in Christ, to be a light to their teachers, and to get involved more fully and missionally in our community. We’re excited to support Laura as she seeks healing from severe depression and to affirm her calling and gifting. We’re confident that this is what is best for our kids at this time. And it’s not a permanent decision, as we will assess this summer how the spring went and see if we want to stay on this course or make another change for the following year.

I hope you do the same. I hope you look at life right now and ask yourself if what you’re doing helps you serve the Lord, or if you need to make a change. And I pray that this might help you have the courage to change if you need to.

 

Dead or Alive?

I’ve been hearing this phrase in my head over and over in the past few months:

“Every living thing changes.”

Maybe it’s partly because I’ve noticed that the gray hairs in my beard are staging a coup d’etat over the dark hairs. Maybe it’s because I’ve been through a lot of transitions in life the past few months at church and at school and at home and with friends. And change can be scary because it moves me away from something that I know and into the unknown.

But if it’s static and unchanging, it’s not alive. A living person is constantly changing. (cue comments about my weight going up and gray in my hair…) Likewise, a relationship that is alive is always evolving and growing and moving. I thank God that my marriage is not in the same place that it was when we said “I do” 17 years ago! A business that thrives is always changing. IBM, for instance, began as a maker of dials and time recorders in the 1880s. Imagine if Apple had decided to stick to making desktops and Steve Jobs hadn’t changed to embrace the mobile phone market!

This is true of people as well. Consider the Apostle Paul, who in my mind is the greatest follower of Christ to ever live. In one of his earliest letters, he says in Galatians 5:12 “I wish those who unsettle you would emasculate themselves!” That’s pretty hard core! But at the end of life, in 2 Timothy 2:24-25, the very same man said, “And the Lord’s servant must not be quarrelsome but kind to everyone, able to teach, patiently enduring evil, correcting his opponents with gentleness.”

This is also the case with our spiritual life. If it is not growing, it’s not living. That’s not to say that we’re not saved (salvation is by faith alone in Christ alone), but it’s not living and breathing and useful for today. This is what James talks about in James 2:17, that a faith that is not working and growing and changing is dead.

Every living thing changes. So embrace the change and the growth.

How about you? Where are you changing? Is your marriage changing for the better? Are you growing closer to God, growing in your use of your spiritual giftedness in service to God for the benefit of the kingdom, and changing your heart? If you took a spiritual inventory would you find that compared to a year ago some things have definitely changed, or are you in about the same place?

Every living thing changes.

Actions Have Consequences!

One of the most important lessons that we must learn in life to succeed is that actions have consequences. What we do will lead us to be victors or lead us to failure. Every decision is important!

 

If your kids are like mine, you probably have issues getting them to bed on time. We’ve cajoled, we’ve spanked, we’ve nagged. It’s tough stuff! Recently, though, at the suggestion of our counseling pastor we read Boundaries With Kids and have implemented what Cloud and Townsend call “reality based consequences.” What that means is that when kids disregard a boundary they have to deal with a consequence connected to their breaking the boundary. For us and bedtime we established a firm boundary: the kids must get to bed by their bed time, in jammies, teeth brushed, family prayers said, and without us having to warn them of the time. The consequence for breaking the boundary is that for every minute they are late to bed, the next day their bedtime is 5 minutes earlier. So 5 minutes late to bed tonight costs 25 minutes tomorrow!

 

Sure, the kids tested the system. They’re kids! After a couple of tries to avoid the consequence and realizing that we were going to hold to it, they started adjusting. And now, several months later, it is almost comical. Our youngest daughter is 7 and was playing some Wii near her bedtime. I even remarked to our oldest child that I was wondering how late she was going to be! Then, about 6 minutes until bedtime, my little one realized what time it was. She sprang into action! It was amazing how fast she turned off the video game, got dressed, got her teeth brushed, and huddled the family up for prayer. And sure enough, she was in bed SECONDS before bedtime! Knowing that there was a firm boundary and established consequences made a huge impact on her.

 

We now have a mantra for our kids at home: “I am responsible for me.” I ask the kids who is responsible for them, and they all answer “I am responsible for me!” That extends to school, to bedtime, to chores, to life.

 

This is how life works. When we break a boundary, there is a consequence! I had to explain this to a student this week who had a court date. He was frustrated that he would miss class and asked me for an excused absence. He had been ticketed and needed to be in court for sure, but I told him that he was responsible for himself and that the absence was not excused. That would cost him points in class, and he tried to tell me all about how it wasn’t his fault that he got pulled over. Nope, sorry bud. Actions have consequences! (this is a good student, so no hate there…)

 

Do you realize that this is how God works? As Christians, we are each responsible for our conduct and our decisions have consequences, good and bad! 2 Corinthians 5:10 says that we must all stand before the judgment seat of Christ, and in 1 Corinthians 3:12-15 Paul tells us that our decisions as Christians matter!

 

If anyone builds on the foundation [of Christ] with gold, silver, precious stones, wood, hay, or straw, each builder’s work will be plainly seen, for the Day will make it clear, because it will be revealed by fire. And the fire will test what kind of work each has done. If what someone has built survives, he will receive a reward. If someone’s work is burned up, he will suffer loss. He himself will be saved, but only as through fire.

 

Actions have consequences and I am responsible for me! Likewise, you are responsible for you. How you live for Christ matters not only in your witness but in your reception by Christ on judgment day. There WILL be consequences for what we have chosen on that day, for good or for bad.

 

So…a question for you. How are you doing with those boundaries? Now that you know that the boundaries are established and will be enforced, does it change how you look at your decisions today? I hope so! Smile

Refreshing Grace: The First book from Biblical Framework Press!

RefreshingGraceFrontCoverOnlyHave you ever wondered how God can be in control of everything and still allow people to have free will? I think that for many Christians, this is a real conundrum. Sure, there have been “fights” between Calvinists and Arminians over this issue for 500 years; Calvinists argue that God is great and in control, and Arminians counter that God is good and offers salvation to all.

 

For many Christians, though, neither answer is sufficient because God says both in His Word. But how can both be true?  Well, this week I published a new book titled Refreshing Grace. This book takes a new approach to this often emotionally charged issue and explains the issue, and a fresh biblical solution to it, in an understandable way.

 

If you’re interested in the issue of God’s sovereign control and our free will in salvation, my prayer is that Refreshing Grace will help you understand the issue with more clarity and passionately pursue Christ with that new knowledge.

 

The book is available on Amazon.com in paperback as well as on Kindle.

 

Amazon.com paperback edition.

 

Amazon.com Kindle Edition.

Same Task, New ‘Tude

I know I wrote a recent post about motorcycling and the Christian life, but some themes bear repeating. Smile  I got to ride my bike today for the first time in over a month (it’s been WAY too hot in Phoenix), and man oh man is riding fun. I just love hitting the starter button and listening to the exhaust pipes burble (that’s a new word…I am going to patent it I think). I love feeling the throttle engage, banking into a turn and accelerating out of it. I love letting the bike whine in first gear for a little too long because the engine was built to rev.

 

For pure joy, no car ride can touch the same trek on a motorcycle. I’ve had fun driving cars, too, but a bike transforms a commute into a fun time. Usually the drive between school and church is taken as quickly as reasonably possible just to get from one to the other. Today it was a lot of fun, and I am really looking forward to my ride home!

 

Isn’t that a great reminder about the rest of life? It’s the same task, but when approached from a different perspective it can become so much more fun and engaging. I think that the Christian life can become much the same: boring when we get into a rut or keep at the same old thing, but fresh and new if we will change the pattern or find an engaging way to accomplish the same task. Maybe your Bible time is boring…how about reading a devotional instead, or getting the Bible on audio narrated by celebrities? If your service at church is getting stale, have you thought of approaching the task from a different angle or maybe changing ministry focus? If your prayer life is stuck, how about making time for God at a different time of day and with a different focus?

 

Tasks can get repetitive and boring, including spiritual disciplines. How do you keep it fresh and keep your perspective on the Christian life fun and engaging?