Monthly Archives: September 2011
This is my favorite time of year to bake and I love trying new recipes as the weather turns cooler. Apples are being harvested everywhere in Central Illinois right now and a trip to the orchard is on the top of my list for this week. Yesterday I pulled my old faithful Farm Journal Complete Pie Cookbook off the shelf and looked for a recipe that could make both the apple pie and apple crisp aficionados in my house happy. Combining the best of two recipes, I came up with this winner! I know you will love it!
Thatmom’s Country Crispy Apple Pie
Pastry for 1-crust pie
½ cup heavy cream or half and half
2 TBS. quick-cooking tapioca
1 c. sugar
½ tsp. salt
1 tsp. nutmeg
1 tsp. cinnamon
2 tsp. lemon juice
5 cups peeled, sliced apples
2 TBS. butter
1 cup flour
½ cup softened butter
½ cup brown sugar
Arrange crust in pie plate, crimping edges. Combine cream, tapioca, sugar, salt, spices, and lemon juice in bowl. Add thinly sliced apples and toss to mix. Spoon half of mixture over crust, dot with butter, and spoon in rest of apples. Combine flour, brown sugar, and softened butter until crumbly and sprinkle over pie. Bake at 400 degrees (or 375 if using glass pie plate) for about 50 minutes or until apples are tender and crust is golden brown. Pie will become firmer as it cools.
The longer I live, the more convinced I am that God’s providence in the affairs of men and women is evident wherever we look. As I have often shared, I believe it is important for homeschooling families to recognize the Biblical truth that God has no plan B, only a plan A and that only when we acknowledge this to be true and trust in God’s sovereignty, are we able to accept whatever comes into our paths. It is then, with the grace that the Lord gives to us, that we are able to minister to others who experience the pain and sufferings that come with living in a fallen world. This very real fact is evident in the life of the woman I want to share with you today.
Harriet Beecher Stowe was a Christian wife and mother whom the Lord used in a mighty way to bring light and grace to citizens of the United States in the mid 1800’s. The core values of her life ought to be examined and emulated today by every believer who seeks to have a lively, practical faith in the 21st century.
Harriet was born in 1811 in Litchfield, Connecticut, to Rev. Lymann Beecher, who was an abolitionist, pastor, and the founder of the American Bible Society. At that time, Litchfield was a gathering place and a resort for lawyers, judges, pastors, and other professional men who had achieved some particular status and the Beecher home often welcomed many of these families into their home.
Harriet’s mother died when she was only four years of age, leaving 13 children to be raised by her godly father. However, before Mrs. Beecher died, she prayed, asking the Lord to call her six sons into the ministry and eventually that prayer was answered, with the youngest one, Henry Ward Beecher, becoming the most prominent. It was within one of America’s most celebrated families of Christian intellectuals that Harriet’s value of human life was shaped and honed. According to one biographer, “Someone once quipped that the human race was comprised of “men, women, and Beechers,” and the observation was only half in jest. Lyman Beecher’s children devoted themselves to transforming the culture, and they played leading parts in many 19th-century reform movements, including abolitionism, temperance, education, and woman’s suffrage. The Beechers’ activism was fueled by their passionate commitment to pursue truth whatever the cost. In the Beecher family, debate was not merely tolerated, it was obligatory. As Harriet’s brother Charles later recalled, “the law of the family was that, if anyone had a good thing, he must not keep it to himself.”
It was around their family dinner table where Harriet first began to apply a biblical worldview to the issues of her day, giving her a vision for her own work within God’s kingdom. When she was 12, Harriet, who was called moody, bookish, and brilliant and who loved to read the poetry of Lord Byron, went to live with her older sister, Catherine, who was a teacher. She began to excel in the writing of compositions and soon was helping to teach in the school that Catherine opened. The next year, when she was 13, Harriet came to a personal faith in Jesus Christ and later said that as she listened to one of her father’s sermons, the Holy Spirit quickened her heart, causing her to confess her sins and call upon Christ alone for salvation.
As a young woman, she moved again with her family to Ohio where her father became the president of Lane Theological Seminary and where she met Professor Calvin E. Stowe, a well known and well educated man who was a widower and who was deeply opposed to slavery. It was also in Cincinnati where Harriet came into contact with fugitive slaves for the first time.
In 1836, Harriet married Mr. Stowe and eventually they had 7 children. Their commitment to each other was evident in the notes she penned to Calvin: “If you were not already my dearly beloved husband,” she once wrote, “I should certainly fall in love with you.” Together, they sheltered fugitive slaves in their home and were deeply touched by the stories they heard from the underground railroad movement.
As Harriet was lovingly raising her children, she continued to write, publishing travel books, biographical sketches, children and adult novels, and poetry, helping to supplement the family income as her husband’s small salary as a college professor brought financial stress to the home. However, her many published pieces in local magazines and newspapers were not as precious to her children as the many passionate letters she wrote to them, admonishing them to seek Christ first in all things and to conform their lives around Him and His Word.
Harriet knew her own share of loss and grief during her lifetime. Besides being left without her dear mother, four of her own seven children died during Harriet’s lifetime. Her son, Charley, died at 18 months of age from cholera and an older son, Henry, drowned while he was a student at Dartmouth. Another son, Frederick, became an alcoholic after he was wounded in the Civil War and never fully recovered from his wounds. Her daughter, Georgiana, died in her early 40’s from morphine addiction. It was the grief that Harriet experienced in her own life that burdened her to write a novel called Uncle Tom’s Cabin.
One day, Harriet’s sister-in-law wrote to her, saying, “Harriet, if I could use a pen as you can, I would write something that would make this whole nation feel what an accursed thing slavery is. “After reading the letter aloud to her children, Harriet dramatically crumpled the paper in her hand and said, “I will write something if I live.” Later, while in church, she is said to have had a vision of “Uncle Tom’s death” and was reportedly moved to tears. Immediately she went to her home and started writing her book.” Thoroughly researching what was known as the “peculiar institution,” she interviewed fugitive slaves and slave owners with all points of views, and read several books.
Uncle Tom’s Cabin or Life Among the Lowly was first published as a series of weekly articles in the National Era, a Washington D. C. Anti-slavery publication in 1852. It was deeply controversial but immediately the demand for her story became so great that it was published as a novel, the first week selling over 10,000 copies, and during its first year selling over 1 million copies in England and 300,000 across the US. Now, over 160 years later, it has remained a part of school curriculum in many parts of the US and has been translated into 62 languages.
In her novel, Harriet drew on personal experience. Her whole life had been spent with people who had been involved in the abolitionist movement. She had housed fugitive slaves herself and she had lived in Cincinnati, a city on the border between Ohio, which was a free state, and Kentucky, which was a slave state. She had once heard the story of a young slave mother, Eliza, who knew her young son was about to be sold off to another plantation owner. In order to keep him with her, this mother made a daring escape across the frozen Ohio River, leaping from one floating ice chunk to another with the child in her arms, until they were both safely across. That true account later became the inspiration for one of the most poignant moments in Uncle Tom’s Cabin.
In juxtaposition to southern theologians like pro-slavery theologian, R.L.Dabney, Harriet Beecher Stowe challenged the body of Christ to show respect to escaped slaves and some passages of the book even sounded as though they could have been preached in the leading pulpits of the day “On the shores of our free states are emerging the poor, shattered, broken remnants of families,–men and women, escaped, by miraculous providences, from the surges of slavery,–feeble in knowledge, and, in many cases, infirm in moral constitution, from a system which confounds and confuses every principle of Christianity and morality. They come to seek a refuge among you; they come to seek education, knowledge, Christianity. What do you owe to these poor, unfortunates, O Christians? Does not every American Christian owe to the African race some effort at reparation for the wrongs that the American nation has brought upon them? Shall the doors of churches and school-houses be shut down upon them? Shall states arise and shake them out? Shall the Church of Christ hear in silence the taunt that is thrown at them, and shrink away from the helpless hand that they stretch out, and shrink away from the courage the cruelty that would chase them from our borders? If it must be so, it will be a mournful spectacle. If it must be so, the country will have reason to tremble, when it remembers that fate of nations is in the hand of the One who is very pitiful, and of tender compassion.”
Harriet soon became one of America’s most famous writers of her day, traveling to Europe and garnering over a half a million anti-slavery signatures from women from every walk of life, from noble woman to peasant. Assembled, the names were bound and given to her in 26 volumes. Readers of her personal journal would later read: “I wrote what I did because as a woman, as a mother I was oppressed and brokenhearted, with the sorrows and injustice I saw, because as a Christian I felt the dishonor to Christianity, because as a lover of my country I trembled at the coming day of wrath.” In further reflecting on her purpose for writing the book, she said:
“… I HAVE BEEN the mother of seven children, the most beautiful and most loved of whom lies buried near my Cincinnati residence. It was at his dying bed and at his grave that I learned what a poor slave mother may feel when her child is torn away from her. In those depths of sorrow which seemed to me immeasurable, it was my only prayer to God that such anguish might not be suffered in vain. There were circumstances about his death of such peculiar bitterness, of what seemed almost cruel suffering that I felt I could never be consoled for it unless this crushing of my own heart might enable me to work out some great good to others. I allude to this here because I have often felt that much that is in that book had its root in the awful scenes and bitter sorrow of that summer. It has left now, I trust, no trace on my mind except a deep compassion for the sorrowful, especially for mothers who are separated from their children.” Ever true to her convictions, even after the passage of the Fugitive Slave Act that made it illegal for someone to help a slave to freedom and that required runaway slaves to be returned to their masters, Harriet aided the runaways, offering them shelter, food, and motherly compassion.
Many historians today consider Uncle Tom’s Cabin to be the single most significant force leading to the US Civil War, which ended in the abolition of slavery. Again, in her journal she wrote about her feelings about the War. She said, “It was God’s will that this nation—both North and South—should deeply and terribly suffer for the sin of consenting to and encouraging the great oppressions of the South…the blood of the poor slave, that had cried so many years from the ground in vain, should be answered by the blood of the sons from the best hearthstones through all the free states.” In 1862, Stowe went to see Lincoln to pressure him to free the slaves faster. Her daughter Hattie, who was present at the meeting between Stowe and Lincoln, reports the first thing Lincoln said was, “So you’re the little lady who wrote the book that started this great war.”
Britain’s Queen Victoria, upon reading Uncle Tom’s Cabin wept bitterly. Tolstoy pronounced it one of the greatest achievements of the human mind and Mark Twain praised it as “a drama which will live as long as the English tongue shall live.” In reflecting upon her writings, one political scientist observed, “Uncle Tom’s Cabin rarely inspires accolades. Indeed, if mentioned at all, the novel is likely to be derided as patronizing, racist, and overbearingly sentimental. When I finally read Harriet Beecher Stowe’s novel for myself nearly a decade ago, I was astonished by its sophistication. As a political scientist, I was intrigued by Stowe’s multi-layered exploration of such themes as civil disobedience, human equality, and the role of religion in politics. Given Stowe’s family background, I shouldn’t have been so surprised.”
During the reconstruction years, Harriet established schools and boarding homes for newly freed slaves and her prolific writing reached the hearts and minds of people from all walks of life, from men who held high offices in the government, to the most common of men and women. She continued to pen other works, including a book entitled “How to Live on Christ,” which so impacted the missionary Hudson Taylor in China that he sent a copy to every person serving with the China Inland Mission.
A pastor friend of mine, who has been involved in the pro-life movement for several decades, once suggested to me that I read Uncle Tom’s Cabin. He shared with me that when he read it for the first time, as an adult, he had been deeply moved by the close parallel it made to the greatest social issue of our day, abortion. He challenged me to read it, as well. So, a number of years ago, I read it aloud to my own children and to my elderly mom who lives with us. We were all moved to tears on several occasions and I understood my friend’s admonition that I would never be the same once I had read it. I believe that I can say that that is true.
On the pages of Uncle Tom’s Cabin, I found kindred spirits, those who knew that every man and woman is created in the image of God and thus ought to be handled with tenderness and compassion. I discovered the sin in my own heart as I heard Little Evie challenge her father’s spiritual values. I found myself drawn to old Uncle Tom, wanting to be like him, seeing the face of Jesus on the old slave man as he forgave his abusive master, being more concerned about the tyrants eternal soul than his own pain, even as he was taking his final beatings. But mostly, I was inspired to reach out to those women who have been so severely broken in our own culture as they have had their own precious children taken from them through abortion.
Those of us who are mothers cannot help but be touched by the suffering of mothers and children. Many of us have suffered the grief of miscarriage. Others have experienced the horrible trauma of abortion. But I believe that God, in His providence, has included these sufferings in our lives as part of his plan A, so that we might be able to more effectively minister to other moms who also bear these burdens. As we contemplate how we can be a part of bringing an end to the greatest injustice of our own day, let’s remember Harriet’s concluding remarks in Uncle Tom’s Cabin and apply them for such a time as this:
And you, mothers of America, — you who have learned, by the cradles of your own children, to love and feel for all mankind, — by the sacred love you bear your child; by your joy in his beautiful, spotless infancy; by the motherly pity and tenderness with which you guide his growing years; by the anxieties of his education; by the prayers you breathe for his soul’s eternal good; — I beseech you, pity the mother who has all your affections, and not one legal right to protect, guide, or educate, the child of her bosom! By the sick hour of your child; by those dying eyes, which you can never forget; by those last cries, that wrung your heart when you could neither help nor save; by the desolation of that empty cradle, that silent nursery, — I beseech you, pity those mothers that are constantly made childless by the American slave-trade! And say, mothers of America, is this a thing to be defended, sympathized with, passed over in silence?
I have been crazy busy the past few weeks and it looks like things are starting to wind down now. I spent about 10 days in California visiting our son and his wife, babysitting for part of that time so he and his wife could have some alone time. A few days after I got home, our daughter and her children arrived and I was blessed with another great visit with grandchildren, which included the building and launching of model rockets with Grandpa and a tea party with 4 generations of girls. In the midst, I have been tucking away links to share and today is the day!
Everyone’s favorite homeschool scientist, Dr. Jay Wile, has updated his online presence and his blog is awesome. Check it out!
This is a pretty chilling report and the reasons I am sharing it will not be lost on those who grasp the ramifications of patriocentricity and its dominionist roots.
Long time homeschooling father, pastor,and author, Reb Bradley, has written an article that certainly reflects much of what we have discussed on this blog regarding homeschooling expectations and, thanks to Josh Harris, has made its way through hundreds of blogs and homeschooling websites. I applaud both Reb and Josh for bravely going where many have refused to tread and can so relate to Reb’s personal struggles as he seeks to come out of the legalistic homeschooling lifestyle. As someone who well remembers his original presentations and writings which found wide acceptance in the patriocentric camps, I am so blessed to see how the Holy Spirit is working in his life and at his great humility at sharing what he did. Though there are others who don’t think he went far enough and point fingers at some things he said that show the residue of his former thinking, I think his article should stand as a testament to what we are beginning to see within homeschooling circles….the desire to forsake the paradigm and embrace relationship homeshooling! What an encouragement that should be for those of us who have been singing about “grace” at the top of our lungs!
I am excited that my article on homeschooling families and church has been published in the most recent issue of Home Educating Family Magazine. If you are not yet a subscriber, you can receive a free copy of the issue that includes my article by contacting them through the website. The whole issue is quite good and the magazine is first class!
Now that the heat of summer is mostly behind us, its time to think about new recipes to enjoy during the fall and winter months. I thought this article on using tomato paste was so helpful and the entire website is full of great simple ideas and recipes for healthy eating your family will enjoy.
Finally, I want to encourage you to watch and share this video with your older kids, other homeschoolers, and your church family. As our family has been going through the Understanding the Times curriculum this fall, we are ever mindful of how desperately our world needs truth!
I have been looking at the book of 2 John, one of several small epistles at the end of the New Testament and I have been considering its message in light of what it can teach homeschooling mothers. Since this book is addressed to “the elect lady” I believe there are some key truths that are important for us to consider and that, if understood, can be the basis for what the Lord wants to teach us, his curriculum, if you will, for homeschooling moms.
In 2 John 3, the apostle John pronounces a blessing on the elect lady by saying: “Grace, mercy and peace from God the Father and from Jesus Christ, the Father’s Son, will be with us in truth and love.” These three blessings, I believe are explained by reading through these few verses and by examining each verse in light of the other writings of John. As we have already discovered, grace comes to Christian moms beginning with the tremendous gift of salvation we have received. God’s love for us is an act of mercy that we, in turn, give to others as we obey His command to love our neighbor as ourselves. And today we will look at how moms can experience genuine peace with both God and man as we learn to become women of discernment.
When Clay and I first moved to Germany, we enjoyed putting Mollie in her bright green backpack and setting out for one day adventures each weekend. Having remembered seeing pictures of the stadium that had been built for the 1972 summer Olympics, one Saturday we boarded a train and ended up in a beautiful park in Munich, which was even more spectacular than what we had remembered seeing on television.
After spending the afternoon hiking through the grounds, we realized that a soccer tournament had been taking place and as we made our way to the train station, hoards of fans from both teams began flooding out of the stadium and toward the same train stop. Best described as drunk and disorderly, these rival fans brought both their beer and their bitter rivalry into the train along with them, pushing, shouting, shoving, and presumably swearing in German. The scene was chaotic and frightening and the intensity was even greater not understanding exactly what was being said and who, if anyone, could control this mob and being aware that European soccer fans have been known to kill one another. We managed to find seats toward one end of the car and watched as, here and there, some of the fans got off at each stop, many of them heading into the nearest guesthouse for further celebration. We sat in the quiet of the train car the rest of the way home, alone and thankful for the peace that had finally come.
When the apostle John uses the word “peace” in verse 3, the word means quietness and rest and is actually defined as being the opposite of confusion. It is the same word used in Galatians in naming one of the fruits of the spirit and it is even used to describe God himself, the God of peace in Romans 15.
Homeschooling mothers, for the most part, rarely are able to find times of peace and quietness. Spending most of our days in the chaos of family life, paperwork and clutter, and the never ending cycles of meal preparation, cleaning and laundry, we need more than Calgon to take us away. But even more important than a peaceful household, we need to seek to be women who possess internal peace,women of discernment whose spiritual lives are not in upheaval because we do not know what we believe or how to apply those beliefs to our lives. That is the warning that John has for the elect lady in verses 9-11: “Many deceivers, who do not acknowledge Jesus Christ as coming in the flesh, have gone out into the world. Any such person is the deceiver and the antichrist. Watch out that you do not lose what you have worked for, but that you may be rewarded fully. Anyone who runs ahead and does not continue in the teaching of Christ does not have God; whoever continues in the teaching has both the Father and the Son. If anyone comes to you and does not bring this teaching, do not take him into your house or welcome him. Anyone who welcomes him shares in his wicked work.” John is telling this woman that she must become a woman of discernment because he knows how much is at stake. Her spiritual life and the spiritual lives of her children depend on it. In order to become a woman of discernment, a woman who lived a life of peace rather than one marked by confusion, the elect lady needed to know two things: what a deceiver really looks like and who Jesus really is. And John was prepared to tell her.
First he says that some deceivers do not teach that Jesus came in the flesh. He counteracts this notion in the Gospel of John, saying “In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God, and the Word was God. He was with God in the beginning. The Word became flesh and made his dwelling among us.” John made it very clear that Jesus was himself God who came to earth in the form of a man, living with the limitations of the flesh, taking on the nature of humans, being tempted as we are tempted, though he never sinned. Colossians 1 tells us this about Jesus: “He is the image of the invisible God, the firstborn over all creation. For by him all things were created: things in heaven and on earth, visible and invisible, whether thrones or powers or rulers or authorities; all things were created by him and for him. He is before all things, and in him all things hold together. And he is the head of the body, the church; he is the beginning and the firstborn from among the dead, so that in everything he might have the supremacy. For God was pleased to have all his fullness dwell in him, and through him to reconcile to himself all things, whether things on earth or things in heaven, by making peace through his blood, shed on the cross. Once you were alienated from God and were enemies in your minds because of your evil behavior. But now he has reconciled you by Christ’s physical body through death to present you holy in his sight, without blemish and free from accusation.” You see, there will be no peace in the life of any mom until she understands who Jesus is, that he came in the flesh and gave his life for us.
Even Jesus wanted those he spoke to, to understand that he WAS God who was to be the center of their worship. When the Jews demanded that he prove his authority, He told them that if they destroyed the temple, he would raise it again in three days, speaking of his own body. Jesus was God in the flesh, the one to be worshipped, the Word that became a man living among men. And he is the ONLY means of coming to God.
In the ancient Babylonian and Asyrian cultures and even in the Mayan and Aztec nations of Central America, men built temples to worship their Gods through sacrifice. These temples were called ziggurats and were built in receding tiers on a rectangular or square or sometimes oval platform with a place to make sacrifices on their summit. Ramps or stairs allowed access to the top, sometimes as many as 7 tiers on any given ziggurat. They believed that these were stairways they could climb in order to reach their gods to offer sacrifices, works they could perform in order to please their deities.
Sometimes I think that we, as homeschooling moms, build our own stairways to heaven, our own versions of good works, actually believing that they are the means by which we can find approval from God. We have a vision in our minds of what a perfect homeschooling situation would look like, a line-up of clean and perfectly obedient children who perfectly complete the perfect assignments we give them from our perfect lesson plans. We write mental checklists of what we need to do in order to be acceptable and worthy of our salvation, lists that define biblical or godly womanhood. We believe that our worth to God is measured by how many of those items we can check off on our quest to become the perfect combination of Martha Stewart and Elisabeth Elliott, with a dollop of Mother Theresa thrown in for good measure. Our celestial stairways are steep and polished and somehow we can never get to the top of them.
In Genesis 28, Jacob dreams of a similar stairway into heaven but in his vision, angels of God were ascending and descending on it. Jesus explained Jacob’s dream in John 1 when he said “you will see heaven and the angels of God descending and ascending upon the Son of Man.” Jesus is saying that He is our ziggurat, our stairway, our only means to reaching God. It is “from the fullness of God’s grace that we have all received one blessing after another” John tells us, “For the law was given through Moses but grace and truth came through Jesus Christ.”
Secondly, John tells this mother that in order to become a woman of discernment, she must recognize that deceivers will not continue in the teachings of Christ. Recognizing these deceivers is often a difficult task because they may still maintain the form of godliness but they will deny the power of the one true God. They preach grace but administer the law, denying the power of the Holy Spirit. John gives us several identifying markers of those who are deceivers: He says that that they love the world and the cravings of sinful man, they lust with their eyes, they continually boast. I always think of Sinclair Lewis’ Elmer Gantry when I read this passage of Scripture. The fictional character Gantry was raised in a Christian home and studied at a seminary, eventually becoming an evangelist, but his love for the things of this world…sex outside of marriage, power, and money….all became his undoing and he used religion as a cover to acquire these things. He was a charlatan of the worst sort. He was a deceiver.
Sadly, these can be our own temptations as well. Living in a fallen world and being surrounded by all those things that dazzle and call to us, we must be aware of our own temptation to fall prey to deceivers who might promise to give us the things of this world if we follow a certain way of homeschooling or of raising our children. How easily we can be deceived into thinking, for example, that a particular method of discipline based on man’s philosophies will give us perfect children and personal acclaim. Or how quickly can we fall prey to the voices that instruct us to follow man’s ideals simply because they add the words “biblical” or “godly” to whatever they want us to do. Jesus warned us that straight is the gate and narrow is the way that leads unto life, admonishing us to keep our eyes on Him, rejecting the many things the world has to offer us, trusting in Him alone, the living Word.
John goes on to say that deceivers claim to love Jesus but they don’t love others and as we saw last week, loving God with your heart, soul, mind, and strength and your neighbor as yourself is the only means of obeying any of God’s commandments. Paul identified deceivers as those who, rather than loving others, are “lovers of their own selves, covetous, boasters, proud, blasphemers, dishonoring to parents, unthankful, unholy, without natural affection, trucebreakers, false accusers, incontinent, fierce, despisers of those that are good, traitors, heady, highminded, lovers of pleasures more than lovers of God.” Jude describes these deceivers as men who are grumblers and faultfinders; they follow their own evil desires; they boast about themselves and flatter others for their own advantage. Deceivers, in essence, do not love god or others, only themselves and they use others to their own advantage.
John also tells us that deceivers believe that Jesus’ kingdom is of this world and don’t acknowledge that God’s kingdom is from another place and that salvation comes by works of righteousness toward building that kingdom. 19th century preacher Charles Spurgeon has this to say about identifying deceivers and their desire to build the works of their own hands:
“Human wisdom delights to trim and arrange the doctrines of the cross into a system more artificial and more congenial with the depraved tastes of fallen nature; instead, however, of improving the gospel carnal wisdom pollutes it, until it becomes another gospel, and not the truth of God at all. All alterations and amendments of the Lord’s own Word are defilements and pollutions. The proud heart of man is very anxious to have a hand in the justification of the soul before God; preparations for Christ are dreamed of, humblings and repentings are trusted in, good works are cried up, natural ability is much vaunted, and by all means the attempt is made to lift up human tools upon the divine altar.
“It were well if sinners would remember that so far from perfecting the Saviour’s work, their carnal confidences only pollute and dishonour it. The Lord alone must be exalted in the work of atonement, and not a single mark of man’s chisel or hammer will be endured. There is an inherent blasphemy in seeking to add to what Christ Jesus in His dying moments declared to be finished, or to improve that in which the Lord Jehovah finds perfect satisfaction. Trembling sinner, away with thy tools, and fall upon thy knees in humble supplication; and accept the Lord Jesus to be the altar of thine atonement, and rest in Him alone.”
Finally, John reminds the elect lady that she is to flee from deceivers and is not to bring them into her home. He says “If anyone comes to you and does not bring this teaching, do not take him into your house or welcome him. Anyone who welcomes him shares in his wicked work.” Paul confirms this when he says that these are people who resist the truth, they have corrupt minds and are reprobate concerning the faith. They creep into houses, and lead captive silly women laden with sins, led away with diverse lusts, women who are ever leaning but never able to come to the knowledge of the truth.”
One of the phrases I frequently hear from women who read a variety of books or Bible studies is the phase “I read so and so’s book and was able to eat the meat and spit out the bones.” I can remember thinking that myself until one day I realized how much of my time in the past 30 years had been spent bone picking and spitting my way through the plethora of books that are available today for Christian women. While I do not take issue with reading, and I do my fair share of reading all sorts of books, I believe the majority of my reading time ought to be spent reading in God’s word and digging deeper and deeper there for the unlimited truths that can be found. We will never be silly women who can be led away or moms who are unable to come to the knowledge of truth if we concentrate on the real truth found in the Scriptures.
I also find myself amazed at the number of Christian women who are so willing to expose themselves to the foolish philosophies that come from women like Oprah or others like her, their vain ramblings declaring everyone and everything God except the Christ of the Bible. John warns the elect lady to not even let these people into your home or else you will become partakers of their blasphemy. Jude tells us what the fate is of these teachers, these deceivers. He says they are “clouds without water, carried about by the winds, late autumn trees, without fruit and uprooted—twice dead. They are wild waves of the sea, foaming up their shame; wandering stars, for whom blackest darkness has been reserved forever.”
One of my greatest desires for homeschooling mothers is to see them living lives that are full of peacek and contentment, enjoying their children and their husbands, basking in the goodness that the Lord lavishes on each of us every single day. Turmoil and chaos and confusion are Satan’s methods of destroying the harmony that God wants our families to experience. Doubts about our salvation and Jesus’ finished work on the cross and what that means in application serve to defeat us in our callings as moms who are training our children. Recognizing the sources of those doubts and discouragement by becoming women of discernment will lead us into the peaceful pastures where out good shepherd, the Lord Jesus wants us to graze.
In his little letter of 2 John, the apostle and our dear brother in Christ, whom I look forward to meeting one day in heaven, has given us such wise words of instruction as mothers. He knows that our lives as believers are an open book to our children, that what we really believe will emanate from our lives in whatever we are doing, that our testimony of God’s grace to us will be made manifest to them as we demonstrate that same grace and mercy to them, that it is only by knowing the true Jesus personally that we will be able to live peaceful lives.
Part Two of 2nd John series as adapted from the podcast series entitled God’s Curriculum for Homeschooling Mothers.
In the first article of this series, I shared with you some of the rich insights that the apostle has for homeschooling mothers from verses 1-3 and how they are a picture of the very grace, mercy, and peace that John prays will come to the recipient of his letter. In our study we learned some very interesting things about the elect lady to whom this tiny epistle is addressed. She trusted Christ alone for her salvation, basking in God’s grace in her life. She knew that God’s word alone is truth, His gracious gift to her. She was a woman with a testimony of that grace, living a life that brings glory to God. And she was a woman whose confidence and hope was in the Lord, believing that His grace was sufficient for her, knowing His power was made perfect in her weakness. In
short, her life was a picture of God’s grace to her both in her salvation and in her sanctification as she grew in holiness.
Today, as we look at verses 4-6, we see the theme of mercy, as she receives mercy from the Lord and as she is commanded to show that same mercy to others. The apostle John says to her “I rejoice greatly that I have found some of your children walking in truth, as we received the commandment from the Father. And now I plead with you lady, not as though I wrote a new commandment to you, but that which we have from the beginning that we love one another. This is love that we walk according to His commandments. This is the commandment that as you have heard from the beginning we should walk in it.”
A few weeks ago we had the privilege of attending the wedding of a young woman whose family we have known for nearly 25 years. The oldest of seven home schooled children, this young woman is both the testimony of God’s goodness and faithfulness in her own life as well as to the grace that God has shown to their whole family. Witnessing the marriage of a godly Christian couple and listening to the many remarks at the reception from those who told how this couple had lived out their commitment to Christ before a watching community, blessed our whole family. It was surely an
occasion that caused us to rejoice.
The apostle John tells the elect lady that he, too rejoiced greatly because some of her children were walking in the truth. We do not know if this means that he only knew some of this woman’s children, whether some of them were believers and others weren’t, or if only some of them had
lives that showed a testimony of their faith, perhaps because some of them
were still small. What we do know is that the elect lady, herself, was able to rejoice because God had done the same marvelous work of salvation In the lives of some of her children and John joined her in rejoicing in that fact.
In 3 John 3, this same expression is used as John exclaims that he rejoiced greatly to hear that those he had mentored were walking in the truth, and that he had no greater joy than to hear that his children walked in truth.
The greatest joy a Christian parent can have is to see their children come to Christ in genuine repentance for their sins and to know that they are committed to living in a relationship with Jesus Christ. In fact, introducing children to Christ and discipling them ought to be the highest
priority for the homeschooling mother. I have two thoughts that come to mind that I believe are important for moms to consider when thinking about the salvation of their children.
The first, and most important thing to remember, is that God is sovereign in the lives of your children even as He was sovereign in your own salvation. Perhaps you have a child who is struggling in his faith or is even now rejecting Christ as His savior. Maybe you have a grown child who has not only rejected Christ but is living a life of debauchery and rebellion. As heartbreaking and discouraging as that certainly is, we have to trust that God’s ways are not our ways and that His timing is not ours. We are responsible before Him to be faithful in presenting the Gospel to our children and for nurturing them in His ways, trusting that His word
will not return void. But we must remember that our children’s salvation is by the grace of God by faith alone and that we cannot do anything ourselves to convict our children or to bring them into the family of God. Our children need the Holy Spirit to give them hearts of flesh to replace their hearts of stone. They each individually need the saving grace of a gracious Lord Jesus who sees their need and hears their cries. But we cannot be the ones to give them those things. We must trust that the will of a Holy and Righteous Father will be done and that nothing that must and will be accomplished is somehow left outside of His purposes.
On the other hand, how we present God to our children IS our responsibility and ought to be done with the utmost care and compassion, relying on God’s Word and the Holy Spirit to guide us. It is said of Timothy that he knew the Holy Scriptures from the time he was a child and was trained by his mother and grandmother, professing as an adult that “all Scripture is given by inspiration of God and is profitable for doctrine, for reproof, for correction, and for instruction in righteousness.” I believe he learned these truths at the feet of these dear women in his family and that is an example for all moms.
I also know that our training of children ought to be fully bathed in grace and gentleness, a sacrificial act of mercy to those who are to see in us the very picture of Jesus, reflecting His goodness, grace, and mercy to us. Too often the popular books on raising children are full of the admonition to not allow silliness or youthful exuberance in our children. So parents expect their little ones to be sober minded and to sit perfectly still during church. Once time I made the mistake of actually smiling and winking at a little 3 year old as he sat across the aisle from me. To my horror, the father saw him return my smile and proceeded to squeeze the inside of that little boy’s thigh. These were the same parents who pinched the cheeks of babbling 7 month olds and refused to allow their children to have any of the candy I gave to little ones on Sunday morning. I have often wondered what the children in that family now think of the Lord. I wonder if they love coming to God’s house or if they dread it.
Some of the other books instruct us to beat a child until he outwardly repents or to train him as one would a dog or other animal, even purposely tempting them to disobedience by placing attractive objects in their paths and then slapping them when they reach out to touch them. Is this how the Lord Jesus teaches us to follow and obey him? How heartbreaking this must be to the Lord when a parent who has been given the precious gift of raising a little one for His glory abuses that privilege.
Then there are the stories I have heard from older children who were excommunicated from their church home and from their families, their parents refusing to speak to them or allow them to see younger siblings all because they differed from their parents on the non-essentials of the faith. Sadly, some parents remain so committed to their paradigm that they are now cut off from grandchildren and for what? Preferences in dress or methods of dating, courtship, or music? What a tragedy.
In his book, Heartfelt Discipline, pastor and homeschooling dad Clay Clarkson offers the word PATH as an acronym for remembering what we are responsible to do as we raise our children and I loved it when I read it because I believe it reflects the importance of showing mercy to our children. Here are a few of his thoughts:
P ~ Pray for your children regularly. He explains it this way: “First we must turn to God and from our hearts, give Him our trust. I can’t do that without going to him in prayer. Then we turn away from trying to be parents in our own power, doing it all based on natural ability or someone else’s formula. We repent of trying to discipline our children without God.”
A ~ Accept your children unconditionally. Clarkson says “God has designed each of your children with specific traits, preferences, and motivations and he wants you to accept everything about every one of your children just as He accepts them. I am convinced that the more we accept our children, the less we will find ourselves exercising corrective discipline and the more we will find ourselves just loving them into obedience.”
T ~ Teach and train your children diligently. “Picture yourself as a godly guide on the path of life, putting your arm around your child as you walk and talk about the life of God. Rather than relying on formal lessons, let your teaching become an ongoing conversation in which the Scriptures are a large part of the dialogue. Teach with your child’s heart in view. Rather than strict corrective discipline, let your training find its power in your relationship with your child and in the power of the Holy Spirit.”
H ~ Honor your children purposefully. “Paul exhorted the Romans to be devoted to one another in brotherly love, give preference to one another in honor. The word honor means to assign a value or a price to determine worth. As parents you have the power to give your children a sense of self worth or value, not just reflected in your eye but also in God’s eyes. They need to hear many time how valuable they are to you and how valuable they are to God.”
Then John demonstrates for the elect lady what mercy looks like by making an appeal that she obey the command to love one another, telling her that it isn’t a new command but it is the same commandment she has been taught since she became a believer. It is the same command that Jesus gave when John quoted him in chapter 13 of his gospel: “A new command I give you: Love one another. As I have loved you, so you must love one another. By this all men will know that you are my disciples, if you love one another.”
Historically the Christian church has considered the marks of a true church to be the preaching of the word, the administering of the sacraments, and the exercising of church discipline. But in this passage of John, we are told that the true mark of a Christian is his love for others.
It is appropriate that John would remind the elect lady of this because it is a truth we all need to hear all the time, especially as moms! We need to be reminded that God loves us and sent His son to die on the cross in our stead. And the outpouring of that love and mercy toward us ought to be the outpouring of that same love and mercy toward others, first and foremost to those within our own family then to everyone else, all those who are our neighbors.
In Romans 13:9 , Paul reminds us that The commandments, “Do not commit adultery,” “Do not murder,” “Do not steal,” “Do not covet,”[a] and whatever other commandment there may be, are summed up in this one rule: “Love your neighbor as yourself.” And again in Galatians 5:14 he says that the entire law is summed up in a single command: “Love your neighbor as yourself.” But what does this look like? How do we know how to love our neighbor?
Too often we are all bound up in the particulars of the Christian life. We look at the ten commandments and then we have to make a list on top of those commandments, what we think constitutes the keeping of those commandments. We add requirement upon requirement until our list mutates into something that we never intended and often it even becomes the opposite of what it means to love others. We construct our own law of love and expect others to obey it if they want our mercy.
But this is how Jesus addressed this misunderstanding of the law of love in Luke 10:13:
“On one occasion an expert in the law stood up to test Jesus. “Teacher,” he asked, “what must I do to inherit eternal life?” “What is written in the Law?” Jesus replied. “How do you read it?” The man answered: “‘Love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your strength and with all your mind’; and, ‘Love your neighbor as yourself.’” “You have answered correctly,” Jesus replied. “Do this and you will live.” But he wanted to justify himself, so he asked Jesus, “And who is my neighbor?” In reply Jesus said: “A man was going down from Jerusalem to Jericho, when he fell into the hands of robbers. They stripped him of his clothes, beat him and went away, leaving him half dead. A priest happened to be going down the same road, and when he saw the man, he passed by on the other side. So too, a Levite, when he came to the place and saw him, passed by on the other side. But a Samaritan, as he traveled, came where the man was; and when he saw him, he took pity on him. He went to him and bandaged his wounds, pouring on oil and wine. Then he put the man on his own donkey, took him to an inn and took care of him. The next day he took out two silver coins and gave them to the innkeeper. ‘Look after him,’ he said, ‘and when I return, I will reimburse you for any extra expense you may have.’ “Which of these three do you think was a neighbor to the man who fell into the hands of robbers?” The expert in the law replied, “The one who had mercy on him.” Jesus told him, “Go and do likewise.”
Showing mercy to others is the outworking of the command to love one another. Combined with the other one anothers of Scripture, it becomes the means by which we extend God’s grace. When we recognize that all of the 10 commandments can be summed up in loving God and loving man, we initially think that it isn’t all that difficult of an instruction. In fact, it IS a simple teaching, but in practice it is much more difficult. If we are honest, we must admit that we continually sin against one another, including our husbands and children every day. When we become angry with our children because they make a mess and cause us extra work, violating our personal rights, and hateful feelings start to come to the surface, we are guilty of murder. When we attempt to put our husbands into some sort of supposed manly paradigm, perhaps even calling them priests in our homes, we are placing someone else before God and having another God before the one true God. When we establish our own man made vision for the future of our children, we are guilty of stealing from them, robbing them of the blessing of experiencing God’s callings in their own lives, stealing away the gift they have of using their own talents and gifts for God alone. When we secretly desire that our husbands are leaders in their homes after the manner of others rather than recognizing God’s own timing and own working in the lives of our own husbands, we are guilty of adultery, that is, wanting another husband other than our own. When we compare our lives, as wives and moms, to the lives of others, rather than thanking and praising God for all he is doing for us, we are guilty of coveting. When John admonished the elect woman to obey the commandment of loving one another, it was a true word spoken that was meant to bring harmony and delight to her life. It is also the message for us.
Finally, In John 17, the apostle tells us that the evidence of this love is that we will demonstrate a unity before the watching world. In Jesus’ high priestly prayer he says “that all of them may be one, Father, just as you are in me and I am in you. May they also be in us so that the world may believe that you have sent me.” In essence, the way we one another our children, our husbands, and other believers will be a visible demonstration to the world that we first love God and, more importantly, that He first loved us.
In his book The Mark of the Christian, theologian Francis Schaeffer, said this, “What shall we conclude but that as the Samaritan loved the wounded man, we as Christians are called upon to love all men as neighbors, loving them as ourselves. And that we are to love all true Christian brothers in a way that the world may observe. This means showing love to our brothers in the midst of our differences, great or small, loving our brothers when it costs us something, loving them even in times of tremendous emotional tension, loving them in a way the world can see. In short, we are to practice and exhibit the holiness of God and the love of God for without this we grieve the Holy Spirit. Love and the unity it attests to is the mark Christ gave Christians to wear before the world.”
The word unity is sometimes used in Christian circles when really what the speaker is calling for is uniformity. Like-mindedness is often meant to mean everyone thinking all the same things about everything. But the unity Scripture describes comes about organically as brothers and sisters in Christ are willing to show deference to one another and to make their goal to encourage each other. As we set aside all selfish ambitions and seek to nurture each other in the Lord, spurring one another on to love and works, genuine unity is natural the byproduct.
The Apostle John, in these few words to the elect lady, was calling her to become a woman of mercy. As she has been shown by the Lord by both being given eternal life and by being given the blessing of children who are also Christians, she is called to show mercy to others by demonstrating genuine love for them. I pray that this will be your desire and the way of life for all of us who are also elect ladies!
Next week, please join me as I look at the last few verses in the book of 2 John as we discuss how Christian moms can achieve peace in their lives by becoming women of discernment. See you next week.