By their fruits, you will recognize them

I’ve been reading a lot about the horrific events surrounding Josh Duggar and his family, recently.  Countless hours have been spent digging deeper and asking the questions: what went wrong?  How can I avoid this?  It’s no secret that our family is very similar to that of the Duggars.  We’re Christians, we have a large family, we homeschool, we don’t allow unfettered access to the internet, etc… and although I’d never heard of Bill Gothard or the Advanced Training Institute until relatively recently, in many ways our family is very much like the Duggars and that is concerning.

The more I read about the Duggars and their worldview* (based largely on teachings from Bill Gothard and the Advanced Training Institute), the more light has been shed on the little, seemingly insignificant, things that, when taken as a whole, may have led to the downfall of one of the Duggar children and the abuse of three others.  As I dug through the teachings of Bill Gothard, Advanced Training Institute, Vision Forum, the Quiverfull/Patriarchal Movements and many others, I found a seedy underbelly full of abuse and children (now adults) left crippled and broken, each connected by a common thread that is slowly gaining influence in many Christian homeschooling circles.  I was sucked in.  Friends I know have been sucked in.  And the results are out.  Children who were raised within this movement are now old enough to speak out and the results are frightening:  Broken families, depression, anxiety, sexual dysfunction, horrific abuse and children (now adults) who have walked away from the Christian faith.

With their promise of easy rules guaranteed to produce “godly results,” these teachings have gained in popularity, even as they leave broken families and shattered children in their wake.  Please note that I am not saying that these teachings, taken individually, are all wrong or abusive.  Homeschooling can be great, children are a blessing, I love having a big family and I love being a stay-at-home mom.  However, many of these teachings are taken to extremes and defined as the ONLY “Godly” way to order our households and raise our children and where several of these beliefs are formulated together into a core parenting philosophy, taken to extremes and followed out of fear, abuse seems to follow inordinately often.  

I believe, therefore, that it is important for us to examine these teachings in light of the “fruits” they are producing and evaluate our position and (if applicable) our observance of these teachings.  Following is a list of what I have discovered to be the most common core principles that make up these abusive systems, being sold as a set of “rules” guaranteed to produce “Godly adults.” At the end of this article, I have included links where you can read the heartbreaking testimonies of children who have been brought up within these extremes.  We owe it to our children to read these stories and learn from the mistakes of the past.

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1.  Patriarichal gender roles

gothard
In this view, the husband is considered the head of the household and has absolute authority over his family. In its strictest application, wives and children are required to submit to the husband and obey him in all things.  Q
uestioning the husband/father is considered rebellion and wives are often encouraged to stay with their husbands even if their relationship is physically abusive.  In fact, some proponents of Patriarchal gender roles go so far as to say that women need to be “disciplined” (ie. “spanked”) by their husbands.  

2.  The belief that women cannot be in ministry or have leadership positions.

Women are not permitted to take leadership roles in church, government or employment as that would give them “authority over men.”  In some cases, women are additionally taught that they  must not speak in church or ask questions except to their own husbands.

3.  The belief that women must stay at home

Staying at home and doing domestic work is considered to be the only Godly profession a woman can have.  Anything else takes her out from under her husband’s “authority” and is, therefore, sin.  In some cases, women are not even permitted to work alongside their husbands in home-based businesses.

4.  A stance against birth control

In its strictest application, having children is not a choice, but a duty, and birth control in any form, for any reason, is considered a sin.  Parents are often encouraged to have as many children as possible, and even advised to come together only during those times of increased fertility.

5.  Homeschooling

Home schooling is considered the only option for the child’s education and those who do not homeschool their children are in violation of a biblical mandate, and are therefore in sin.  In its strictest application, homeschool parents are encouraged to keep their children away from children schooled outside of the home, and even avoid activities in which publicly schooled children participate.

6.  An extreme emphasis placed on sheltering children from “the world,” avoiding contact with sin at all costs and complete isolation from anyone who doesn’t agree with the parents theology.

gothard3

In its strictest application, this means that children are to be cut off from anyone and anything that is categorized by the parents or the church as “sin.”  I spoke a little bit about our experiences with this teaching Here, and at its most extreme the practice includes keeping children away from any and all things parents disagree with. Example: Bill Gothard advises followers to demand that the places they visit turn off background music deemed “ungodly.”  Parents are encouraged to avoid all contact from the world at large, never have friendships with those who believe differently and never participate in activities with those who don’t follow their “rules.”

7. A belief that courtship is the only “Godly” way to find a spouse

In this practice, children – even adult children – are required to ask permission from their fathers before dating (ie. “courting”), partners must be approved by fathers and children may only date under supervision at all times.  Most of the time, “courtship” also excludes any form of physical intimacy, including holding hands, and is considered a form of engagement.  Break-ups are discouraged except in the most extreme circumstances, the goal being never to “court” more than one person or “give away your heart” until marriage.  

8. A fear of sexual sin and an excessive focus on preventing it, including an extreme emphasis placed on modesty.

modesty

Sexual sin is considered the worst of all sins and there are strict rules and teachings in place to prevent all forms of “sexual sin,” including physical attraction to the opposite sex (which is considered “lust” and is believed to be as sinful as adultery.)  See this article for a truly frightening exposition, and this series of articles that expound on the culture that is often a result of these beliefs.

9. A belief that children of both sexes must obey their parents, often into adulthood, and that daughters must stay home until marriage

In its strictest application, daughters may not attend college, have jobs outside the home or move out on their own – ever.  No matter what their age, women are required to stay at home, serving and obeying their fathers until marriage.  In some teachings, adult men are required to obey their fathers even after marriage.

10. A belief that spanking is the only “Godly” method of discipline and that children who question their parent’s rules are being “rebellious.”

In this view, only spankings are considered adequate forms of discipline for all behavior deemed undesirable by the parents and parents are taught that any other form of discipline (time-outs, taking away privileges, etc.) will lead to rebellion.  In its strictest application, parents are encouraged to spank until “the will is broken.”  Children are never allowed to ask “why” in regards to the rules, they’re never allowed to give input or express their own opinions, they are required to obey immediately and with a “good attitude.”  See here and here for examples of these teachings.

 

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For most of us in the Christian homeschooling world, these teachings are at least somewhat familiar.  Started by a minority, they are gaining in popularity and it is interesting to note that the extreme application of each of these beliefs centers around one thing: fear.  Fear that children will be “corrupted” by outside influences.  Fear that if children aren’t disciplined a certain way, they will rebel and reject the Christian faith.  Fear that if our children aren’t modest, they’ll have sex before marriage and…. I don’t know… become prostitutes or something.  FEAR.  In fact, Bill Gothard’s entire curriculum centers around antidotes and stories filled with tales of all the horrible things that will happen if his advice isn’t followed to the letter.**  The entire movement centers on instilling the fear that anything other than exact obedience and strict interpretation (their interpretation) of certain biblical passages will lead to … well, the very things that are happening as a result of these teachings… abuse, broken families, and shattered faith.

Attempting to shame away sin, or cause children to become afraid of sinning, won’t ensure that our children grow up with their own desire to follow Christ, it won’t ensure that they want to abstain from sin and it won’t ensure that they want to love those around them.  In the end, only one thing can do that, and that is a relationship with Jesus Christ.  And that is something that we, as parents, can’t create.  We can’t make it happen and we can’t ensure that it does.  What we can do is pray, and create an environment full of love in which to foster it.

So in asking the question: “what went wrong, and what can I do to avoid it,” I find only one good answer.  Focus on the love of Christ. Welcome Jesus as intimate member of our family.  Know Him as savior… and as a friend.

I encourage all of us who have grown up in the midst of these movements or on the fringes, all of us who are familiar with the terms “Patriarichal” and “Quiverfull” and the ministries of Bill Gothard, Michael Pearl and Doug Phillips, just to name a few, to take a deeper look at the things we’ve been taught and refuse to follow blindly.  

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“Watch out for false prophets. They come to you in sheep’s clothing, but inwardly they are ferocious wolves. By their fruit you will recognize them. Do people pick grapes from thornbushes, or figs from thistles? Likewise, every good tree bears good fruit, but a bad tree bears bad fruit. A good tree cannot bear bad fruit, and a bad tree cannot bear good fruit. Every tree that does not bear good fruit is cut down and thrown into the fire. Thus, by their fruit you will recognize them.”

Matthew 7:15-20

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Further reading:

Recovering Grace

Homeschoolers Anonymous

No Longer Quivering 

Rethinking Vision Forum

*Please note that I do not know the Duggar’s personally, nor do I know everything about how they teach or raise their children.  I do know, however, that the Duggars have been very outspoken in support of Bill Gothard and homeschool their children using the Advanced Training Institute’s curriculum.  The more I read about this curriculum and the teachings of Bill Gothard and others like him, the more frightening I find it to be.  This is not an attack on the Duggars, only a sincere desire to lean from their mistakes.  Because although I believe that Josh is an adult and is fully responsible for his own actions surrounding the most recent scandal, I also believe that the roots of his current behavior started when he was a young boy, growing up in a household that seemed to have every safeguard in place to prevent this and yet a household where something went terribly, terribly wrong.  Unfortunately, the Duggars have not been willing to speak more extensively on this subject, so we are left to examine their parenting practices based on what little is known.  In an attempt to learn more about some of their beliefs and practices, I have uncovered horrific abuses affecting many of the children who were raised according to Bill Gothard’s methods and those like them.  Regardless of whether this led to the heartbreaking situation in the Duggar family, its effect on other families should not be ignored.

**Examples: An ATI page on counseling sexual abuse has a section for identifying whether the victim was “at fault” due to “immodest dress” or “being with evil friends.”  In Bill Gothard’s Road Safety booklet, six out of twelve pages deal with how a woman can keep herself safe from attacks, one of which gives instructions to women on how not to “provoke” an attack (by, you guessed it, dressing “inappropriately,”) and another teaches that a woman who is attacked is as guilty as the attacker if she doesn’t “cry out.”  There are pages devoted to proper dress, avoiding temptation, submitting to authority, the dangers of semen-causing cancer, and an especially disturbing set of videos devoted to avoiding masturbation because it is “selfish,” “becomes an idol,” “cultivates a depraved mindset” and makes you a “prisoner,” unable to love and connect with your loved ones.

Posted in Discipline/Discipleship/Raising Godly Children, Faith, Fear, Femininity and Womanhood, Guilt, Homebirthing, Homeschooling, Love, Marriage, Modesty, Parenting, Perfectionism, PERSONAL, Quiverfull, Separation from the world, Spiritual Warfare | Leave a comment

How do we define “modest”?

modesty

A disturbing excerpt from Bill Gothard’s “Wisdom Booklets”

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I was recently asked the following question after my post on the feminist fight for the “right” to go topless:

Do you see [modesty] as cultural… or do you see a biblical expression of a specific definition of modesty?

In my original answer, I explained how we searched the bible to determine our definition of “modesty” and wrote:

“I tend to believe that we should first look to His word, before looking to our culture to define our standards.

I still believe this.  However, in thinking about it since then, I realize that my answer didn’t go deep enough.  In searching God’s word, I see that some of His laws are subject to the culture and the people to which they were given (Mark 10:5, Matthew 19:8: “It was because your hearts were hard that Moses wrote you this law…. From the beginning it was not so.)  Furthermore, the application of some laws were enforced on a case-by-case basis by God, Himself (John 8:1-11: the adulterous woman, 2 Samuel 12: David and Bathsheba.)  So what is the “right” stance to have on modesty?  Maybe there isn’t one.*  Some of us define modesty based on biblical culture and the standards displayed in the Bible (which would reflect that culture), while some of us define modesty based on modern culture and the standards that govern our society.  And maybe we’re both right.

Because, as the bible shows us time and time again, the issue is that of our hearts.  The person who practices modesty by returning to the biblical ideal and the person who practices modesty by following the cultural ideal are both acting from a desire to be modest.  And in that, I believe we are both doing what is “right.”

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*Several years ago, I posted the following article: What are we doing to our guys? Since then, and especially after having read the Modesty Culture articles I linked to in a recent post, I have come to re-evaluate how “modesty” is defined in the Christian worldview.  Specifically, the fallacy of defining “modesty” by determining what a man feels when he looks at a woman (as exemplified in the image above… Gothard’s advice encouraging women to be on guard against “eye traps.”)  Although I still believe that it’s important to take men’s struggles into consideration (in the spirit of 1 Corinthians 8 [“if what I eat causes my brother or sister to fall into sin, I will never eat meat again, so that I will not cause them to fall“]), I think that to define modesty by what men could potentially feel when they look at a women not only puts the blame and responsibility of lust squarely on the woman, it also gives her an impossible standard to achieve.  After all, some man some where is always going to be able to find some thing to lust after.  Furthermore, as I wrote in my last post on the subject, there is something beautiful to be said about saving one’s body as something special and sacred to be seen and enjoyed only in a particular context, within a particular relationship.  In that context, our bodies don’t become a source of temptation we have to cover and be ashamed of, but a glory to be discovered only by that special person we give the privilege of discovery to.
(As a side note, I also find the point made in the “Modesty Culture” articles interesting that, for all intents and purposes, modesty in Christian culture usually only applies to girls
([boys going around topless, anyone?])

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Related Articles:

Feminists: fighting for the right to be mediocre

Striving to be more immodest

Let her bre@sts satisfy you at all times

Posted in Femininity and Womanhood, Modesty, PERSONAL | Leave a comment

A Relationship with God

Tonight, my oldest daughter (13) had this on her heart to write, and asked me to publish it here…

What really is a relationship with God?  Here is what I strongly believe:

God wants us to love Him.  Having a relationship is not about keeping commandments (although I believe we certainly should,) it’s about loving God with all your heart and really, truly seeking Him.  Trying to find His presence in everything, and trying to thank Him for everything.  It took me a long time to get there but in the end, it was simple…

I started out by asking Jesus to come into my heart and my home.  Then I started seeking His presence and thanking Him for the things He has truly blessed me with, even little things.  Like:  A kitchen table.  Or air conditioning.  Or even a closet or a dresser to put clothes in.  Really, you might be laughing, but what would you do if you didn’t have a closet, or a kitchen table?  And God is the one who has blessed you with those things, and that is why we should thank Him for those things.  Then, I started asking the Lord for little things.  The Bible says: “you have not because you ask not.”  Think about that for a second: “You HAVE not because you ASK not.”  Here are examples of little things:

I can’t find my shoes… Lord, help me find my shoes.
I am sleepy and really don’t want to do something… Lord, give me some energy
I can’t fix something… Lord, help me fix it.

Again, you might be laughing but the Bible says ” you have not because you ask not.”  Then, as God answers each one of these prayers, your relationship with Him will grow stronger because you’re learning to rely on Him.  You’re building trust with Him and working together with Him and that starts to build thankfulness.  You’re also learning to communicate with Him.  And over time, you start to really want to be around God and talk to Him all the time about everything.

God wants us to talk to Him and to love Him more and more each day and to seek Him out.  He becomes a friend you can talk to about anything… a friend who really has a relationship with you that will comfort you and be excited for you and love you no matter what.

Now I feel God’s presence so strongly that it has made me cry before, out of pure joy.  So that is what I believe what a true relationship with the Lord really is…. being able to communicate with God and have someone who loves you and is comforting to you.  This has been on my heart to share for a while and tonight I felt like God told me I should share it.

Love,

“Bunchkin”

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Related Articles:

Should I pray for that, too?

Posted in Bunchkin, Faith, Inspirational, Inspired, Love, PERSONAL, Salvation, The Seven of 'em | Leave a comment

Feathers in the Wind

i had just told jan how i was trying to get a shot of the egret's tail feathers -- so wispy in the wind. but the egret kept an eye on me and kept moving his body, so i couldn't really get the shot i wanted. after he flew away, tho, we no...

There is an old Jewish proverb that tells of a man who went around slandering his Rabbi to all of his townspeople.  One day, realizing that what he was doing was wrong, he went to the Rabbi’s house and begged for forgiveness.  In answer, the Rabbi told him that he would forgive him under one condition: He was to go home, cut his feather pillow open, and scatter the feathers to the wind, returning to the Rabbi’s house after he had done so.  The man did as he was instructed and then returned to the Rabbi to receive his forgiveness.  Upon his return, the Rabbi tasked him with just one more thing: “Go now and gather up all the feathers you threw to the winds.  Bring them to me and then I shall be able to forgive you.”  The man answered: “That is impossible!  The wind has scattered them, they are gone!”  The Rabbi responded: “It is as difficult to repair the damage done by your words as it is to recover the feathers.  So it is with sin.”

About ten years ago, I made a mistake that can’t ever be undone. With the belief that I was protecting my children, I shut my entire family out of our lives.  In the search for righteousness and the desire to see my children “walking in truth,” I stopped walking in love.

If I speak in the tongues of men or of angels, but do not have love, I am only a resounding gong or a clanging cymbal. If I have the gift of prophecy and can fathom all mysteries and all knowledge, and if I have a faith that can move mountains, but do not have love, I am nothing.  If I give all I possess to the poor and give over my body to hardship that I may boast, but do not have love, I gain nothing. (1 Cor 13)

There is so much that can be said of this… so much that I don’t even know where to start, really.  I think the best place to start is with a series of articles I stumbled upon in the aftermath of the recent Duggar Family scandal:

Modesty Culture

and especially this article:

“‘Others May, We Cannot’ is a lie”

When I read this last article, it resonated with me on so many different levels. Here is the excerpt that hit especially close to home:

If you tell your children that women who don’t follow your clothing rules are wicked, ungodly sluts, then you have some potential pitfalls to avoid. It’s easy for your kids to look at perfect strangers at the beach and be taught to disdain and avoid them as evil. They are the wicked “other.”
It’s much harder to do that when they see a friend or relative break the rule…
…What if the kid (being intelligent and all) sees someone they love – who may very well be a Christian too – breaking mommy and daddy’s rules?
The child might decide that following that legalistic rule is NOT necessary to be a good person or even a good Christian.
And that – make no mistake – would be unthinkable.

This is the pinnacle that child-rearing in the Christian Patriarchal Movement balances on.  The fear that if we don’t shelter our children and keep them away from all the “bad influences,” they may somehow be “corrupted.”  And almost ten years ago, we were sucked in.  A pastor that we trusted said the following words to me: “You can’t parade the sins of the world in front of your children and call them Grandma and Grandpa, Uncle and Aunt.”

And I listened.

Before going on, let me be clear: We have never taught our children that women who dress differently from us were “wicked, ungodly sluts” or that “those who wear different clothing are evil.”  Not ever.  In fact, with a few exceptions, we have never taught most of what the author of these articles addresses (and we have since come to repent of those things.)  Nonetheless, there was a kernel of truth for us in everything the author has to say.  We had danced around the edges of “modesty culture” as he defines it, and we had structured certain aspects of our lives around the “patriarchal” teachings, and we had kept our children away from certain people who didn’t “follow our rules.”  Because while we’ve always maintained close relationships with friends and family members who don’t believe the way we do regarding some things, we broke ties completely with anyone who participated in things we labeled especially “bad.”  So while we were still hanging out with friends who wore their miniskirts to Sunday (as opposed to Saturday) worship services and serving ham for dinner, we broke ties altogether with members of our own family who had never even so much as held hands with their sexual partners in front of our children.

You see, somehow I believed – truly believed! – that if I allowed my children to love members of our family who were participating in those “especially bad” sins**, my kids might somehow be led to believe that those things were okay. This is problematic in many ways, one of which is that it relies on outside measures to keep children from walking in sin… but that is fodder for another blog post.  The thing I want to address here is this: in deeming one sin “lesser” than another, I’m being dishonest about what Jesus has to say regarding sin and dishonest regarding His role as the forgiver of sin.  After all, I deemed it fine for my kids to hang around friends who don’t keep the Sabbath (biblically punishable by death, by the way, and the commandment specified by God as a sign of His covenant forever) because I know and taught my children that (A.) it’s possible for people to interpret the bible differently and (B.) Jesus died on the cross to forgive us of all sin.  And yet somehow in my mind, it was not okay for my children to be around family members involved in sexual sin.  Why?  Because A and B don’t apply there?  Is keeping Sabbath not commanded?  Is it a trivial matter?  Is sexual sin worse than breaking the Sabbath, or not bathing after sex or wearing clothing of mixed material, all of which I can find plenty of ways to justify when the need suits me?  In holding one sin up as worse than others, I’m denying what Jesus did for us on the cross.  I’m denying who He is to me, and who I want Him to be for my children.  And in keeping my children from the family that loves them, I am denying them love and support from the people who want most to love and support them.

Although we continue to keep the Old Testament commandments, we broke ties with the patriarchal movement some time ago.  And there has, little by little, been a great deal of healing since then.  I have sought forgiveness and I have received forgiveness from members of my family who are far, far more loving than I myself have been.  God is rebuilding the bridges that were burned, although I know they’ll never be the same.

But I am thankful for new bridges.  For family who loves me, despite my flaws.  For a God who loves me despite my sins which have been abundant and varied. To my family: I thank you for your forgiveness.  I thank you for your love.

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** Please note that I am defining “sin” here as participation in anything the bible (including the Old Testament) tells us not to participate in (and vice versa) because that, according to my understanding of the Bible, is the standard that God calls us to live by.  The use of the word “sin” is not meant to offend, only to define.

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Related Articles:

I have judged wrongly

I Miss Him

Modesty Culture

The Duggars: How Fundamentalism’s Teachings on Sexuality Create Predatory Behavior

I encourage all Christian families to read these last two sets of articles, for even if you are not a member of the “patriarchal” or “fundamentalist” movements and especially if you are, there are truths to be found there.  The articles are about modesty and sexuality but they are applicable to so, so much more.

 

Posted in Consecration, Criticism, Daybook, Discipline/Discipleship/Raising Godly Children, Femininity and Womanhood, Forgiveness, Love, Modesty, Parenting, PERSONAL, Quiverfull, Separation from the world | Leave a comment

Gino

Gino

I just came home from attending the funeral of my cousin, Gino, who left us far, far too early.  He was a year younger than me, and I have so many memories of him from our growing up years, but none at all of him as an adult.  This is something I regret deeply.  I’ve made mistakes – too many to count – and I know too well that sometimes you learn too late and some wrongs can’t be righted.

I was thankful to see my family again for the first time in almost thirteen years, and blessed to have been part of the most beautiful funeral service I’ve ever seen.  My cousin’s death was tragic, but his life touched so, so many people.  I wish with all my heart that I’d gotten to know the amazing man his friends and family knew him to be.  They say you can tell a lot about a man by looking at his friends, and judging by the way they came together in support of his wife, stood by his mother in her time of grief and loved his sisters in the midst of their sorrow, my cousin was an incredible man.  I can only hope to be half as loved as he was, to be half as loving as they described him to be. I knew my cousin only as a childhood playmate (and fiancée if we count those secret proposals behind the palm trees!)  That is something I will regret for the rest of my life.  But I am deeply thankful to know more about the man that he became… kind, loving, caring, considerate, compassionate, strong… in a word: amazing.  I am thankful for the chance to get to know the beautiful wife, children, sisters and mother that he left behind.  He legacy lives on in those who loved him best and I am thankful to be among his family.

Rest in peace, Gino.  I love you.

Posted in Daybook, PERSONAL | Leave a comment

I Miss Him

Those may be the most powerful words I’ve ever heard anybody say.

I was speaking with a friend of mine, a friend who had introduced me to Jesus years ago but was now claiming to be agnostic (or athiest, or something… I don’t remember exactly what he claimed to believe, if anything, only that he had no interest in following Jesus anymore.)  I had been heartbroken upon finding out that my friend no longer believed in everything he’d taught me – that the man who’d helped set me on the path that has shaped my life was no longer walking on it.  But those three words confused me.  Not because he was so obviously, in that moment, admitting his belief, but because I’d never thought of Jesus as a person before.

“I miss him.”  What?  You miss who???  I mean, okay, obviously my friend was talking about Jesus but what did he mean?  Had he said he missed the Christian lifestyle or following the Christian religion or even missed being part of the church, I would have understood.

I would have understood missing the peace that comes with a belief in God or the encouragement that comes from belonging to a church or the reassurance of having a standard of morality that comes from outside yourself.  And, of course, I understand the  comfort in the promise of life after death, forgiveness of sins, and the other major tenants of the Christian faith.

But my friend missed Jesus?  As in… a person?  A person he knew in some intimate way whose absence could cause pain?  I couldn’t wrap my brain around that.  In a way, I still can’t.

Because here’s what I think…

I think I know God as Master.  I think I know God as Provider, and I think I know God a little bit as Sanctifier.  But I know very little of God as Refuge or Shelter or the Giver of Peace that “passes understanding.”  I know even less of God as Friend.  I know nothing at all of God as Lover.

And here’s what else I think.  I think that if you really know Jesus as a friend – as a best friend – a friend who is “closer than a brother,” you want everyone else to know Him, too.  You become a missionary – wherever you are – because you can’t possibly be anything else. I think that when you know Jesus as lover, you see things differently, you feel things differently.  I think that when you know Jesus as lover, you can’t help but love everyone around you, you can’t help but speak kindly, patiently, gently (and not arrogantly, pridefully and hatefully as I’m so wont to do.)  I think that when you know Jesus as lover, everything changes.

And I think that when you know Jesus as lover, you can’t leave him.  Sure, you can separate, you can walk away for a while, but you’ll never stop longing to return.  You’ve married, so to speak, to the only Man you’ll ever love and you know that the rest of your life will never be the same without Him.

Through the years, I’ve watched a lot of people walk away from their Christian faith.  I’ve watched others struggle with their belief in God.  I hear people talk about “religion” and “belief” and I cringe.  Because if all I have is a religion – if all I have is a belief… if I don’t have a relationship with a person named Jesus Christ – then I’ve got nothing at all.

And in some ways, I recognize that is still all I have.  But my friend?  The one who missed Him?  Eventually he returned.  He renewed his vows, so to speak.  And he knows Jesus in a way that I still don’t.

In a way that I so desperately want to.

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(I’ve written about this before, but lately I’ve been feeling this lack more intensely.  If you’d like to understand more, please read the first article I wrote on this subject, HERE.)

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Related Articles:
That I may gain Christ

 

Posted in Evangelism, Faith, Just Thoughts, Love, PERSONAL, Salvation | Leave a comment

Aug 21, 2015: Seven Quick Takes

seven quick takes friday 2

 

(1)

Gwenny left yesterday to spend a couple of months on a friend’s property with her cows and, more importantly, a jersey bull.  Is it totally weird that I miss her, and that I’ve already texted my friend to see how she’s settling in?  I can’t help it… she’s an only cow.

001 Gwen & Pook

001 Gwenny2

(2)

This week, I’ve had no less than 7,639 conversations with my two year old that have gone exactly like this:

“Is this blue?”
“No, it’s green.”
“No.  It’s blue.”

“Is this my shirt?”
“No, it’s Pookie’s.”
“No.  It’s mine.”

Tell me, please… if she already knew the answer (and she can’t be convinced that she’s wrong,) then why-oh-why is she asking the question???

(3)

Remember the orphaned stolen baby chick?  The kids have started feeding her flies, which, although a little bit gross, is also pretty awesome because we have flies ALL. OVER. this house (using the garage right off the kitchen as a milk barn might have something to do with that.).  Yay for orphaned stolen baby chicks!

019 fly

(4)

Did you notice that flyswatter?  That’s one of them fancy shmansy swatters from circa 1960 or so, with frills and lace and everything.  It even has it’s own home on the wall:

024 swatter

My house is so stylish.

(5)

We have two new additions to our farm…

024 kittens

Isn’t that so incredibly exciting?  Please, oh please, won’t somebody contact me to let me know they’ve been dying to adopt a kitten and they think our kittens are so cute and won’t we please please please let them have one – no two! – kittens from our farm?

YES!  As a matter of fact we will!

(6)

Is there anything cuter than a little girl playing with dolls?

008 doodle

How about a little girl wearing her doll in a homemade “carrier?”

Or how about this:

(7)

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See other “seven quick takes” HERE

 

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