Tag Archives: compromise. marriage

My Kids Make Me Do Things I Don’t Want To

I have said for years that when our aging cat Tommy dies, we will be cat-free. No more pets that don’t live in a tank.

At our house, the rule has always been: no dogs, no snakes, no large bugs. This includes spiders and hermit crabs. Fool me once (the smelly hermit crab). Over the years, we’ve had parakeets, reptiles, fish, rabbits, gerbils, hamsters, and cats. All these animals have at least one thing in common. They don’t use a toilet. It sounds terribly selfish, but I was looking forward to a pet-free home.

But now.

My youngest is left with me much of the day, while her five older siblings go out to work or to college, or worse yet (for me), to some fun activity that she’s too young for. There aren’t really many of those, but you’d think so.

So she wants a kitten. And I’m bending.

I do not want a kitten: twenty more years of fur everywhere, randomly deposited vomit, poop in a box, the possibility of poop not in a box…

If it (we) fails at being an “inside” cat…fleas every summer. So it must be an inside cat. We really failed at that before. Oh, and the vet costs, which are financially comparable to human medical costs. Shots, fixing, declawing, shots, shots. We can’t afford human medical bills.

If it (we) fails at being an inside cat, the bill for getting hit by a car and breaking its pelvis.

Or for being swung by its tail, a serious injury leaving the cat needing manual help to empty its bladder.

Or getting mauled by an unknown animal, having to spend six months quarantined in a cage. The medical bill for my husband when its teeth accidentally connect with my husband’s hand while in a biting frenzy to get out of the box while being hauled to the vet.

True stories, every one. Tommy and his mother Isabel. My husband needed a series of rabies shots.

So my vote is: no thanks.

But now.

My daughter is a mostly easygoing, compliant teenager. And that is one welcome quality in this family.

We have been homeschoolers all along. My other children had each other for company. They bounced off each other while I frequently redirected their attention back to the work. It was a tremendous amount of fun. It was an amazingly rich learning experience for us all. It bonded us all together in a way I did not know possible. We developed a unique culture of our own. The kids are very close, though not always harmonious, and will be close all their lives. They are real friends. This, by the way, is the real reason to home educate.

My youngest is five years younger than her next older sister. Though she is an equal emotionally, intellectually, maturity-wise, she is nevertheless just starting high school. So here she will be, with just me, a lot of the time. Just us two homeschooling.

She really is going to miss something great that they had, and I’m bending.

She misses her siblings during the day. To have a kitten would brighten her life.  And she will have the responsibility to take care of it. It would be a source of comfort and amusement every day.  I won’t be immune to the onslaught of cuteness either, once the blasted animal moves in.

My kids have done nothing but make me do things I don’t want to do. The things I do for them.

Update 12/14: The kitten has arrived.  She looks exactly like the ridiculously cute picture at the top of this post, except she seems incredibly tinier, and her mew is so small and high as to be almost inaudible. AWWWW!

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Prove All Things: Part 1

 

Prove all things; hold fast that which is good. I Thessalonians 5:21

Who is the person who fears Adonai?

He will teach him the way to choose.

He will remain prosperous,

and his descendents will inherit the land. Psalm 25: 12-13

The responsibility to “prove all things” is one we all share, and its application should be a practical and fundamental motivation in our everyday lives. This is what I sought to put into understandable terms when I had the opportunity to speak to the women’s fellowship at our church.When I looked into the phrase “prove all things” in I Thessalonians, I discovered some things I hadn’t expected.

Let’s look at the passage.

19 Do not put out the Spirit’s fire; 20 do not treat prophecies with contempt. 21 Test everything.  Hold on to the good. 22 Avoid every kind of evil.  NIV

19 Don’t quench the Spirit, 20 don’t despise inspired messages.21 But do test everything—hold onto what is good, 22 but keep away from every form of evil. The Jewish Bible, Tanakh

Don’t suppress the Spirit, and don’t stifle those who have a word from the Master. On the other hand, don’t be gullible.  Check out everything, and keep only what’s good.  Throw out anything tainted with evil.  The Message Remix

And then we have this…

18 In everything give thanks; for this is the will of God in Christ Jesus concerning you.

19 Quench not the Spirit.

20 Despise not prophesyings.

21 Prove all things; hold fast that which is good.

22 Abstain from all appearance of evil.

23 And the very God of peace sanctify you wholly…   King James

According to J.C. Ryle: “St Paul says to us, ‘ Prove all things.  Hold fast that which is good.’ In these words, you have two great truths:

I-The right, duty, and necessity of private judgment.

II- The duty and necessity of keeping firm hold upon truth.”

So here are the questions I had to answer about this passage.

~If we are to test everything, and hold on to the good, then are we to discard something?

~If we are to test all things, how are we to do that? What standard are we to test them against?

~Do we do that?

~What kinds of things are we to test? Spiritual matters alone?

~What kinds of things are spiritual matters? Do these things impact how I live my life?

~If we are to apply this testing to practical decisions and preferences, are there other legitimate standards by which to test those?

~ What are they? Do we use those other standards?

What We Throw Out

First: If we are to test everything, and hold on to the good, then are we to discard something?

Avoid every kind of evil. Hold onto what is good”…Do you see a gray area? Hold on to the good, but keep away from every kind of evil. Abstain from it, throw it out.

What is found not passing the test is called evil, and we are commanded to separate ourselves from it.

The Sources We Use

Next: If we are to test all things, how are we to do that? What standard are we to test them against?

What are some sources of advice we usually go to?

Our common sense… people we respect as peers…premises from a surrounding culture…expert advice…our best judgment based on our beliefs? Do you have any others?

 I submit to you that while living in the midst of a culture which is intrinsically contrary to God’s thinking, that in practical terms, we make decisions all day long which are influenced by that culture. Without examining and without proving.

We swallow our culture’s premises without a thought.

“Prone to wander, Lord I feel it.  Prone to leave the God I love.” We are!

We sometimes declare that we’re to use our common sense. And we tend to do this when it’s the last refuge we have, in cases where hundreds of years of culture and the most obvious Biblical references stand against our wishes. But Scripture does not seem to recognize our common sense as a reliable source of wisdom.

Pr 14:12  There is a way that seems right to a man, but in the end it leads to death.

Psalm 53:3 Everyone has turned away, they have together become corrupt; there is no one who does good, not even one.

We all, like sheep, have gone astray. Each of us has turned to his own way. And the Lord has laid on Him the iniquity of us all. Is 53.

Our own way is called iniquity. My way of acting is called iniquity. Left to my own devices, my own reasoning, my own judgment, I choose iniquity.

Is there an area where God has not spoken and so it’s up to our common sense?

Pr 3:5Trust in the Lord with all your heart and lean not on your own understanding; in all your ways acknowledge Him, and he will make your paths straight.

There’s that universal word again—all.

How many things are we asked to prove?  “Prove all things.”  That means everything including the ones you thought were settled.  Test them all over again!

Getting Advice from Our Culture

Barnes Notes on the Bible:  “Prove all things—Subject everything submitted to you to the proper test. (I Cor 3:13)…they were carefully to examine everything proposed for their belief. They were not to receive it on trust; to take it on assertion; to believe it because it was urged with vehemence, zeal, or plausibility. In the various opinions and doctrines which were submitted to them for adoption, they were to apply the appropriate tests from reason and the word of God, and what they found to be true they were to embrace; what was false they were to reject. Christianity does not require people to disregard their reason, or to be credulous. It does not expect them to believe anything because others say it is so. It does not make it a duty to receive as undoubted truth all that synods and councils have decreed; or all that is advanced by the ministers of religion. It is, more than any other form of religion, the friend of free inquiry, and would lead people everywhere to understand the reason of the opinions which they entertain.”

My pastor, Robert Kinzel: “We are swimming upstream—big time–against the culture.” “The ship is going down…you don’t want to go with it!” AND “When you begin to look for guidance outside of God’s word, you’re in trouble!”

Here is a description of the unbelieving culture of any time:

Romans 1:21-23: …Although they know who God is, they do not glorify Him as God or thank Him. On the contrary, they have become futile in their thinking, and their undiscerning hearts have become darkened. Claiming to be wise, they have become fools!  

31: brainless, faithless, heartless and mindless.

 If the world is filled with people who go their own way, whose god is their bellies, who don’t refer to Almighty God in the way they lead their lives, why would be go to the world, the culture, for advice?  Are these the sources we use to help us make important decisions about our lives?

And here is Romans 12:2: Do not conform any longer to the pattern of this world, but be transformed by the renewing of your mind. Then you will be able to test and approve what God’s will is–his good, pleasing and perfect will

What is the True Test?

I started looking for a definable test.  What was the standard I ought to use? And I was shown this:

Commentary: The prophecies  “ must not be accepted with credulity but are to be tested by more objective revelation and especially the touchstone of Christ’s Lordship. (I Cor 12:3) and His Incarnation.” (I John 4:1-3).

I John tells us how to discern between spirits; this was the test the early Christians were to use.

Dear friends, do not believe every spirit, but test the spirits to see whether they are from God, because many false prophets have gone out into the world. This is how you can recognize the spirit of God: Every spirit that acknowledges that Jesus Christ has come in the flesh is from God but every spirit that does not acknowledge Jesus is not from God.

And here is the ‘touchstone of Christ’s Lordship’: I Cor 12:3:

Therefore I tell you that no one who is speaking by the Spirit of God says ‘ Jesus be cursed’, and no one can say,’Jesus is Lord’ except by the Holy Spirit.  

So the test that we apply to a premise or idea is whether it  acknowledges  the Lordship of Jesus Christ; and whether it acknowledges that Jesus is who he said he is.

Please read  Prove All Things Part 2 and Prove All Things Part 3

Cost and the Illusion of Everything

Everything we do costs something. You exchange money for something that you need or want. You exchange your time and energy for a few hours each weekday to receive a paycheck. But you have lost that money. You will never regain those hours.

Jesus told us to “count the cost” before we commit to a course of action. Jesus was telling us to recognize the significance and the consequences of our choices. He told us this because there is always a cost.

And anyone who does not carry his cross and follow me cannot be my disciple.
For which of you, intending to build a tower, does not sit down first and count the cost, whether he has enough to finish it–
Luke 14:27-28 NKJV

Choose to do one thing, and the cost is that you will not be doing another thing. The years doing a thing are years lost to doing a different thing.

Feminism once offered women a slogan: “You can have it all.” Many have since found that in real time, this is not true. They worked hard at a fulfilling career, but they were not at home with their children when they began to talk and walk. Their children grew up, and there was an uncomfortable disconnect between them. The bonding designed by God for mother and child was sometimes incomplete. They had to give away one thing to obtain another thing.
If you are a young woman, it’s easy to think that you will have all the options, always. You will pursue this field, but you will also be able to do all the other things you want to do…sometime. Someday.

This is an illusion.

First, you will spend time doing one thing at the cost of all other alternatives that you would have been doing at that same time.

Second, each life choice will place you on a path which may be difficult to leave. I think that many young women have pursued careers expecting that marriage and family would happen later.

Is family life the default, something which just “happens” to everyone at the expected time of life? Decades later, many of these ladies are unmarried still, without having chosen to be so. Could the requirements of career have placed some of those women on a path away from the development of family life? In some cases, did two paths diverge too dramatically?

Conversely, a woman who has put her career “on hold” while she raises her children for a few years will encounter a whole new world when she tries to return. She will not find her job and all its circumstances intact. The world has moved on and the path she has walked has transformed her.

Third, time is limited. There comes a day when you realize in a real way that you will not have time to do all those things you were planning to do. Will you be content with what your life has been about?

Young women are given expectations that we can obtain without cost. No downside is suggested for our life choices. No cost. That is a lie.

There is a cost to every choice, good or bad.

A person who is trying to live an honest Christian life finds that even when we do a thing which is very good, even when we choose to do the best, the most noble, the most holy thing, there is a cost. We work hard to achieve a good thing, but we lose something in exchange. That’s the world’s economy.

“But I was doing exactly what God asked me to do!”

Don’t the acts of obedience and self-sacrifice cost as well? Do they not cost more? If it is a very worthy deed it may take more from us. If it’s worth doing well, we strive with our minds, our emotion, our strength, causing wear and tear and aging to our physical bodies, making us more emotionally fragile, diminishing ourselves.
As we work to provide for the unending needs of those who depend on us, we age and wear out. Time passes. We really do get used up and poured out.

John Mark McMillan’s song, “Economy”, expresses the economy of the world we live in and the entropy which plagues us.

Raise your voice
Chase away the ghosts
The pain that haunts a heart
The things we fear the most
The entropy of life
The slow decay of time
That wars against our bones

All these sinking ships
Are rolled against the wave
The raging of the tide
The tyranny of days
And sleep would chase us down
Sleep would have its way
And night would fall upon us all

But I believe you can overcome my economy
You can dig me out of the grave
I believe you can overcome my economy
You can dig me out of the grave

The weight of love
It rests upon us all
The people we’ve become
The people that we’ve known
Longing for a day
Arrested by a hope
That death could not foreclose upon

I believe you can overcome my economy
You can dig me out of the grave
And I believe you can overcome my economy
You can dig me out of the grave
I believe you can over come my hearts economy
Yeah you can dig me out of the grave

 

This world works this way because it is a fallen world. (See Genesis 3) The sin of human pride and selfishness distorted the world. The fabric of the universe became what we in our self-centeredness wanted it to be. We chose the way the world works.

But we did not count the cost.

The cost in a fallen world is that we die a very slow death all of our lives. We tire, our bodies are destroyed, and we feel frustration, loss, despair, boredom, futility. Our work is constantly ruined and dismantled. In time, our accomplishments vanish. Finally, we die. That is the economy we live in while we’re in the world.

But God’s economy still exists, and will prevail.

The world as God originally created it is hard for us to imagine. All things would be perpetually new. Not only would there be no death, there would be no aging, no illness, no decay. The violence of nature would be alien. Think about a world without sin, no one ever committing an act which is self-serving. We can’t even imagine this.
And in a future age, all will be restored to the way God wants it to be. He will bring his economy back to our world when He returns, making all things new. Our world will end, righteousness will be brought to bear, and all those evils and sadnesses will be no more.

God’s perfect economy is different than the world’s. He will renew the lost years. C.S. Lewis wrote, “They say of some temporal suffering, ‘ no future bliss can make up for it,’ not knowing that Heaven, once attained, will work backwards and turn even that agony into a glory.”

Yes, God can overcome my economy; even though I have been subject to the downward spiral of worldly decline, he can dig me out of that grave, alive!

We are called as believers to see beyond the world’s economy. We are expected to see as God sees, to see God’s economy working in and through the world we live in. To understand the true economy behind, beneath, above the world’s economy. God’s ways, hidden from view except to those who trust Him.

And we are called to act on the truth that we see, regardless of what others in the world do.

12Now we have received, not the spirit of the world, but the Spirit who is from God, that we might know the things that have been freely given to us by God.
13 These things we also speak, not in words which man’s wisdom teaches but which the Holy Spirit teaches, comparing spiritual things with spiritual.
14 But the natural man does not receive the things of the Spirit of God, for they are foolishness to him; nor can he know them, because they are spiritually discerned.
15 But he who is spiritual judges all things, yet he himself is rightly judged by no one.
16 For “who has known the mind of the Lord that he may instruct Him?” But we have the mind of Christ. I Cor 2 NKJV


So what’s a Christian young woman to do?

I want you to realize, now, that you do not have the ability to have it all, do it all, or do everything “someday.” Someday will never come. You must make wise decisions concerning which things in which you will invest your time and energy. Choose carefully what you will spend your life doing. Neither your time nor your efforts are endless. In our world’s economy, you cannot be in two, or twenty, places at the same time.

Please have an honest conversation with yourself. What really matters to you? What do you feel you must do in your lifetime? What must you become?

More to the point, what does God have planned for your life? Maybe finding that out ought to be the first step.

The world will relentlessly insist that you had better get your career ducks in a row before you make the sorry mistake of diminishing yourself into that cookie-cutter mold of wife and mommy. Because then you won’t have an identity, and let’s face it, you won’t matter.

Do you believe that?

Recognizing the cost, how will you invest your time and energy? What will your life be about?

Whose economy do you live in?

(John Mark McMillan is highly recommended artist—his song lyrics, most profound poetry, speak to the very real experience of a disciple of Christ living in a fallen world. And he is awesome in live performance!)