true biblical submission



“Why has the command to “submit to one another” become such a stumbling block to so many? I believe it is because the church has missed the example of Jesus and His servant’s attitude; we have neglected to take in the whole of Scripture and have refused to place our lives square in the middle of the weightier matters of the Word of God. We have ignored the simplicity of life in the covenant of faith and have replaced it with phrases and semantics and man’s principles that reflect a divisive agenda and adversarial assumptions. We have mistakenly regarded submission as a vertical rather than a horizontal action. We have substituted the beauty of an organic, natural one anothering approach, with a legalistic, top down, military chain-of-command list of rules for family life.

“In reality, the true beauty of living a life of genuine, biblical, one anothering is discovered in our submission to one another! When the difficult issues of life come before us, if the spirit of submitting to one another is present, conflicts rarely occur! If the desire to express our love and care for one another takes priority, yielding to each other can become a source of great joy and comfort. You see, submission is not something controlled by someone who requires submission. Rather, it is yielding your personal rights as an expression of love for and commitment to another person. It is done out of a heart of genuine respect, care, and interest in another person, and can never be demanded. Submission is the choice of an individual, is never done out of obligation, always has the best interests of someone else in mind, and does not stand alone in its own category. It combines with all the other one anothers of Scripture to produce a picture of what heaven will certainly be for those who love God. Submitting to one another is merely an instinctive, beautiful dance we do as a couple, as a family, as the body of Christ, choreographed by the grace of God in each of us.   from The Joy of Relationship Homeschooling ~ when the one anothers come home

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only a dad


One of my fondest memories of my dad is his love of poetry. He, and my mom as well, would often burst into spontaneous verse. It was amazing how many poems he could recite and how appropriate they were to the occasion! It was a gift to me and it wasn’t until I was a grown-up that I realized not everyone had a dad who recited poetry! This was one of his favorites.


Only a Dad
by Edgar Albert Guest
Only a dad, with a tired face,
Coming home from the daily race,
Bringing little of gold or fame,
To show how well he has played the game,
But glad in his heart that his own rejoice
To see him come, and to hear his voice.

Only a dad, with a brood of four,
One of ten million men or more.
Plodding along in the daily strife,
Bearing the whips and the scorns of life,
With never a whimper of pain or hate,
For the sake of those who at home await.

Only a dad, neither rich nor proud,
Merely one of the surging crowd
Toiling, striving from day to day,
Facing whatever may come his way,
Silent, whenever the harsh condemn,
And bearing it all for the love of them.

Only a dad, but he gives his all
To smooth the way for his children small,
Doing, with courage stern and grim,
The deeds that his father did for him.
This is the line that for him I pen,
Only a dad, but the best of men.

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Father’s Day admonition to dads



from my friend, Wally Long:

We have an terrible epidemic afflicting children in our country. It’s not drugs, alcohol, bullying, suicide or gang violence. This terrible epidemic is fatherlessness.

It is estimated that 24.7 million children in the US (about 33%) live in fatherless homes. Millions more love in homes where the father is physically present but emotionally detached or not involved. Still more live with abusive fathers. It is likely that over half the children in our country do not have a loving, engaged relationship with their fathers.

71% of all teen pregnancies come from fatherless homes.
85% of children with behavior disorders come from fatherless homes.
91% of homeless and runaway children come from fatherless homes.
63% of youth suicides come from fatherless homes.
85% of youth in prison come from fatherless homes.
72% of adolescent murderers grew up without fathers.
60% of America’s rapists grew up the same way.

All these stats are sourced but I know that stats are not absolute facts. They are estimates and extrapolations. Still, I think the picture is clear and sobering. Children need fathers who love them and are engaged in their lives.

On this Fathers Day let this be a call for us to “man up” and be the men and fathers our children need.

Ezekiel 22:30 (HCSB)
I searched for a man among them who would repair the wall and stand in the gap before Me on behalf of the land so that I might not destroy it, but I found no one.

Your children need you to stand in the gap and repairs the wall. God is searching men. He is calling you. Will you answer the call?

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when failure comes to our children

ebay and zoo 234


“The sense of personal calling on the lives of our children will help them persevere during those times of discouragement and difficulty that are certain to come to them. Early on, our children must embrace the truth that God has no plan B for their lives, only a plan A, and that He is bringing that plan to pass in spite of our best efforts or worst mistakes. Sometimes our children sin miserably and, lost in our own grief and disappointment, we forget this truth ourselves. But it is during these very times that we need to fulfill the calling God gives to us as parents: to comfort, exhort, admonish, strengthen, and encourage our children, affirming God’s forgiveness and watch care.

“I am always jarred back to reality by the story of Jonah, of his refusal to obey the Lord, his recognition that he was in the belly of the fish, the biggest mess of his life, because of his disobedience and the fact that it was God who placed him there. In the second chapter he cries out to the Lord for mercy and deliverance and then makes this profound statement: “Those who cling to worthless idols forfeit the grace that could be theirs” (Jonah 2:8) (NIV). How well Jonah summed up the reality of what happens when we follow a life plan that does not please the Lord or put Him first! If our children fail and try to run away from the Lord by sinning against God through disobedience, especially by following a call He has not placed on their lives, they need to know that God may use amazing but painful ways to bring them back to Him. They need to understand that God is also a merciful and gracious God who is swift to forgive. We should do likewise.” ~ from The Joy of Relationship Homeschooling ~ when the one anothers come home

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summer fresh quinoa salad


I have been trying to find delicious and simple ways to cut the “bad” carbs from our diet and this is one of our favorites. Similar to our familiar traditional pasta salad, this one skips the high carb count and goes well with so many of our usual summertime standbys!

Summer Fresh Quinoa Salad

2 cups cooked quinoa

1/2 cup finely chopped red onion

2 cups chopped tomatoes

2 cups chopped cucumbers

1/4 cup sliced Kalamata olives

1 Tbs. minced garlic

juice of one fresh lemon

1/2 cup olive oil

fresh ground pepper

fresh ground pink Himalayan salt

Mix garlic, lemon juice, olive oil, salt, and pepper and set aside while quinoa cooks and cools. Mix all ingredients together and refrigerate until chilled. Serve alongside grilled meats or with a fruit salad for lunch or supper. Delicious!!!


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are we raising slaves?


This idea that children won’t learn without outside rewards and penalties, or in the debased jargon of the behaviorists, “positive and negative reinforcements,” usually becomes a self-fulfilling prophecy. If we treat children long enough as if that were true, they will come to believe it is true. So many people have said to me, “If we didn’t make children do things, they wouldn’t do anything.” Even worse, they say, “If I weren’t made to do things, I wouldn’t do anything. It is the creed of a slave.”  ~  John Holt, How Children Fail

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the hierarchy of schooling

audobon birds


“One evening I was involved in a conversation about education with a group of parents, some homeschoolers, others with children in public education. One of the dads began to talk about his experiences growing up in private school and the awareness children have as to where they rank in reading and mathematics in their classrooms. “We were all birds,” he told us. “I was in the group called the Eagles.” I saw him sit a bit taller even as he announced it. “We all knew we could read better than the Robins and we were all smarter than the lowly Sparrows. The hierarchy of schooling ability began in first grade and continued all through 12th and even beyond. It made us smug six-year-olds and even smugger college graduates. The Robins settled into becoming average and the Sparrows were just smart enough to know they would never be anything but Sparrows.” We all nodded, understanding exactly what he meant, a twinge of that familiar Sparrow pain passing over several faces. Sadly, the rules of formal education based on comparison demand this scenario to be played out in every school. From the moment children enter a formal education setting, they are placed into categories that pit the Eagles against the Sparrows and can influence even their future success throughout life.” from The Joy of Relationship Homeschooling ~ when the one anothers come home

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children and morality


“Parental responsibility for shaping the ideas and ideals of the oncoming generation has priority. The imperative of training a child to walk morally and spiritually (Proverbs 22:6) does not, of course, reduce to ‘throwing the Book’ at the younger generation. The example of time spent in prayer, worship, Bible study and church participation, the reading of quality books and magazines, the nature of social life, the way the family makes crucial decisions, and not least of all open conversation and discussion of cardinal ethical and religious concerns define the character of home life.” ~ Carl F.H. Henry

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the most important aspect of character training



Last week I wrote about the very important difference between character that is reflected in nice behavior and godly character that comes as a result of faith in the life of a believer. This week I am continuing this discussion by looking at the second important element of this process, the truth that character training is part of a mentoring relationship and, as such, the character of the mentor is of tremendous value.

I have shared many times about my grandmother and the godly influence she was in my own life. There were so many, many things to emulate about her life that I now realize have resulted in her multi-generational influence on others.

Following her examples as a mentor and teacher, one of her daughters, my aunt Edith, spent decades witnessing to her classroom full of first graders and hosted a good news club at her house for nearly as long. To this day there are adults who recall the influence these godly women had on their own families and within their covenant communities. I also can remember a high school Sunday school class teacher whose words of wisdom spoken into my own life and the lives of others in our class planted seeds that took root and are a part of whom I am.

I believe that this truth is what should be at the heart of homeschooling. Often we become discouraged or overwhelmed with the day to day things that distract us from the pursuit of the finish line not realizing that it is how we run every single day that really matters. We get bogged down by housework or worry about whether or not our kids are being offered enough opportunities outside the home or if we are doing enough academic work with them. But, in reality, it is who we are as moms and dads that makes the biggest impact in their lives. Our children see what matters to us, how we invest our time and our resources, and whether or not it involves them and their eternal state.

One thing homeschooling families must discover is the importance of becoming the primary mentors in the lives of their own children and those of us who have enjoyed the blessing of being parents to young adult homeschooled children also know the responsibility that this ministry places on us. For, you see, being a mentor, a disciple maker, a parent who is called to be used of the Lord to raise children for God’s glory alone is an awesome task and it is not for the faint of heart. It also is not for those who are unwilling to change their own lives.

At the heart of mentoring is this truth…discipling children and influencing them for Christ requires that we pursue a relationship with the Lord ourselves. Our children are going to be influenced more by the way we live our lives than by the words we speak to them. 2 Corinthians 5:17 tells us that if we are in Christ we are a new creation, a soul of His making. And we are also told that we are a work in progress. Philippians 1:6 reminds us that God began a good work in us and He WILL bring it to completion at the day of Jesus Christ. Just imagine that…we have no need to fear that we have been called to be the mentors of our children because Jesus has promised to not only work in the lives of our children but in our own lives as well!

I also want to be certain that moms understand that this calling if for you, too, not just the Dad in your household. Recently I read an amazing statement on a pastor’s blog that included these words: “There is no one more important in a child’s life than the child’s father.” While I agree that dads are important and every bit as important as moms, I also believe that moms are just as important as dads. When it comes to mentoring young people, we must recognize that both mothers and fathers have unique things to share and both are equally valuable in the mentoring process.

So what are some things that moms can do to prepare fertile soil for planting the seeds of faith in the lives of children as we mentor and disciple them? As I thought about this, several things came to mind.

First we have to realize that our children will become a lot like us, for good or for bad. I was reminded of this recently when I read that a kid down the street from us had been arrested for underage drinking and illegal drug use. I was not surprised because this boy had been defying all adults since he was in grade school. But mostly I remember his father lying to the police when he and his son were setting off illegal fireworks one fourth of July.

I have watched young people seek to deceive and manipulate others in just the way their parents do. I have witnessed children being unkind and critical, often using the same mean phrases as their parents in order to belittle others. But I have also known young people who did all they could to minister to elderly people or others in need because that was the example set by their parents in their home. And have you ever listened to a young person who was raised in a family that took a strong pro-life position speak to the issue of abortion?

When we demonstrate what is right and good and based on truth, they will respond and will embrace those values, too.

Secondly, mentoring is just a part of building a great relationship with our kids. There is an old saying that goes “They won’t care what you know until they know that you care.” This may be old but it is a timeless truth. A very real part of the mentoring process is being available, being open, and having genuine interest and concern for all aspects of someone’s life. I love the Scripture passage from Romans 15 that says “therefore welcome one another as Christ has welcomed you, for the glory of God.” This paints the picture for me of opening not only my home but my life to someone else and welcoming them simply for who they are!

One important aspect of a great mentoring relationship is that of parents repenting of sins against their children and asking their forgiveness. This must begin as Jesus instructed it to begin: In Matthew 7:3-4 he said: “Why do you see the speck that is in your brother’s eye, but do not notice the log that is in your own eye? Or how can you say to your brother, ‘Let me take the speck out of your eye,’ when there is the log in your own eye?” One of the reasons young people rebel is because they are angry at their parents and, as their mentors and as the more mature ones in the relationship, I believe it is crucial that we make repenting to our children a regular practice. We also need to always be willing to forgive our children for any real sins they have committed against us. We need to have the godly discernment required to be able to differentiate between real sin and any choices they might make that are simply different than what we might have chosen.

The very eye-opening book titled “Unchristian” was written as an analysis of the Barna research that shows why so many young people are leaving the church once they leave home. Among the reasons given were hypocrisy on the part of the previous generation, parents and others in church who were preaching one thing and living quite another. Another reason given was lack of transparency by those who were teaching others. Lists of rules and establishing unrealistic paradigms were stated as contributing factors to their disillusionment. How important it is that we live lives that are real, honest, open, and ones of integrity before our children. We cannot expect them to have character that we do not also model. (For more on this topic, I would encourage you to read the series of articles called Organic Family Life and also those entitled Grace in Parenting.)

Thirdly, all true character training is based on the Word of God. I think we often take for granted the power of the Word of God in changing people’s lives, especially the lives of young people. The so-called experts often encourage bigger and better youth ministries, fantastic activities, and entertaining outings for young people. All of these are a means of allowing down time for getting to know each other, which is part of the mentoring process. But, challenging young people with the Word of God and trusting that the Holy Spirit will use the Word to change their lives and to give them a picture of how they can affect the culture ought to be central to our character building plan.

Scripture speaks to this truth in the wonderful story of Josiah found in 2 Samuel and 2 Chronicles. Josiah was made the king at eight years of age and he ruled in Jerusalem for 31 years. When he was only 16 years of age, the Lord turned his heart to spiritual things and, remembering what he had been taught, he began to seek the God of his father David. Then when he was only twenty Scripture tells us “he began to purge Judah and Jerusalem of the high places, the Asherim, and the carved and the metal images. And they chopped down the altars of the Baals in his presence, and he cut down the incense altars that stood above them. And he broke in pieces the Asherim and the carved and the metal images, and he made dust of them and scattered it over the graves of those who had sacrificed to them. He also burned the bones of the priests on their altars and cleansed Judah and Jerusalem. And in the( cities of Manasseh, Ephraim, and Simeon, and as far as Naphtali, in their ruins all around, he broke down the altars and beat the Asherim and the images into powder and cut down all the incense altars throughout all the land of Israel. Then he returned to Jerusalem.”

Josiah was a man after God’s own heart, as was his father David. He set out to apply his faith within is culture. Then, a few years later hen he was 26 years old he put some men in charge of remodeling the temple. Amazingly, while the men were working in the building, they came across the Book of the Law that had been tucked away. They brought it to Josiah and when he read it he was so moved by the words and so convicted that they had been ignored for so long that he tore his garments and wept in repentance for himself and on behalf of his people. At that point he realized that, in spite of all he had done in the name of the Lord, he still had not kept the word of the Lord. This is what Scripture says: “Then the king sent and gathered together all the elders of Judah and Jerusalem. And the king went up to the house of the LORD, with all the men of Judah and the inhabitants of Jerusalem and the priests and the Levites, all the people both great and small. And he read in their hearing all the words of the Book of the Covenant that had been found in the house of the LORD. And the king stood in his place and made a covenant before the LORD, to walk after the LORD and to keep his commandments and his testimonies and his statutes, with all his heart and all his soul, to perform the words of the covenant that were written in this book. Then he made all who were present in Jerusalem and in Benjamin join in it. And the inhabitants of Jerusalem did according to the covenant of God, the God of their fathers. And Josiah took away all the abominations from all the territory that belonged to the people of Israel and made all who were present in Israel serve the LORD their God. All his days they did not turn away from following the LORD, the God of their fathers.”

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some thoughts on Christian voyeurism and Christian exhibitionism


This piece was originally published in 2008 but I believe it should be reintroduced in light of the Duggar family and the debate swirling around the sexual abuse situation in their home.

Recently, one of my friends told me about a new television show where contestants compete for cash prizes by answering very personal questions while being connected to a lie detector. As he described the premise of the program, I began to feel as uncomfortable as he had been while watching and then when he went on to use the word “voyeurism” to describe the penchant most people have for hearing the personal details of someone’s life, I was intrigued. His comments demonstrated that these interests do not need to be sexually arousing in nature, though they can be and sometimes are, in order for it to be called voyeurism in 21st century vernacular.

How many of us read fiction, watch television sit-coms, and go to movies? How often do we wait in line at the grocery store, scanning the covers of People magazine to know who had whose baby this week? We are all intrigued by the lives of other people. We all love a good story. In fact, the subjects of voyeurism don’t even have to be real people. Look at the popularity of shows like Lost and Survivor. It doesn’t matter that one of these shows has fictional characters and the other has a cast made up of real people. To regular viewers, they are ALL real people.

I have long thought that we have our own form of voyeurism as Christians and especially as homeschoolers. It goes something like this and begins innocently enough. We hear a particular speaker at a conference, we read someone’s book or a magazine article, or we stumble into a blog where a homeschooling family is on display. Since we can relate so well to that family’s lifestyle choices or theology, we read further and before you know it, we have to know the intimate, private, and personal details of that family’s life.

While all the insights we glean might be good, and we certainly can benefit from evaluating the successes and failures of other homeschoolers as they share them with us, it can easily lead to what I call “Christian voyeurism,” the personal satisfaction we can get from knowing the details of “how” another family homeschools, disciplines, practices courtship, or what have you. This voyeurism can lay the foundation for making choices for your own family, choices that might not be what God desires for you and your children, choices that might lead us away from God’s best rather than toward it, choices that lead us into a legalistic approach to discerning how to achieve success with our children. Sometimes those choices even cause us to live vicariously through the life of another homeschooling family, emulating and imitating them through dress, use of jargon, recreational activities, or other practices.

This is a temptation that I believe we can easily fall into as homeschoolers simply because homeschooling is still such a new phenomenon. Though homeschooling is accepted without much ado in most communities, there are still some people, often educational gurus, in-laws, or fellow church members, who question the validity of our chosen means of educating our children. We often become weary of defending homeschooling and we all want to have our choices validated and to be reaffirmed that homeschooling is best for our own children, so we tend to seek out the story behind the successes.

I also believe this can become a trap for homeschoolers because we are so unsure of our own convictions or even what the Scripture might teach about some area of life. Rather than reading and studying the Word of God yourself, it is often simpler to follow the leadings of someone you perceive to be a trusted Bible teacher. And herein lies the other side of the problem: Christian exhibitionism.

There seems to be no shortage of families who are willing to share the most intimate and personal of details from their lives or the lives of their children. Some families choose to talk openly about a daughter’s virginity and a father’s brokering of it. Still others have no hesitancy to speak openly of a rebellious child or graphic descriptions of corporal punishment. Look at the number of “courtship stories” that are now available online. These testimonies often share very intimate details, including an up-close description, or even a picture, of a couple’s first kiss. Some families choose to talk about the moral failures of their own parents. I remember one time listening to a broadcast of Focus on the Family where a well-respected Christian leader and counselor for college youth, shared the private and detailed description of his own mother’s alcoholism and subsequent moral failures. I cringed as he spoke and eventually had to turn off the radio because I knew what he was doing was eliciting sympathy for himself and was not demonstrating the command to honor father and mother.

I love reading the testimonies of God’s goodness and grace in the lives of others. I believe that being transparent and genuine is important. But I think we ought to be wary of becoming Christian voyeurs. Since I think it is a very real part of our human (sin) nature to do so, we must be aware of that temptation and must train ourselves to read with discernment and we must examine ourselves for our own motives.

We also must be careful of falling under the spell of Christian exhibitionists, either by listening to what they share or by becoming exhibitionists ourselves. We have to ask ourselves why some people feel a need to share so openly about very private issues. We also need to discern whether the things we are reading are true, whether they are told appropriately, and whether they are told in the proper context of the rest of a family’s life. We need to be certain to remember that our children’s lives are just that….theirs….and we need to be sensitive when we share about them in public or when we read what others share. We must put ourselves in the smaller shoes worn by our own children and when in doubt, ask them what we can or cannot tell. And, above all, remember that God is not dependent on others to teach us His truth. In His infinite wisdom, He will pour out to us His grace for this journey we call homeschooling.

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