Monthly Archives: July 2006

They’ll Know We Are Christians By Our _______

My husband played this song by Derek Webb for me this morning. I LOVE the words. It’s a good reminder of how we Christians should be seen by those around us.

T-Shirts (What We Should Be Known For)
words and music by derek webb

they’ll know us by the t-shirts that we wear
they’ll know us by the way we point and stare
at anyone whose sin looks worse than ours
who cannot hide the scars of this curse that we all bare

they’ll know us by our picket lines and signs
they’ll know us by the pride we hide behind
like anyone on earth is living right
and isn’t that why Jesus died
not to make us think we’re right

chorus
when love, love, love
is what we should be known for
love, love, love
it’s the how and it’s the why
we live and breathe and we die

they’ll know us by reasons we divide
and how we can’t seem to unify
because we’ve gotta sing songs a certain style
or we’ll walk right down that aisle
and just leave ‘em all behind

they’ll know us by the billboards that we make
just turning God’s words to cheap clichés
says “what part of murder don’t you understand?”
but we hate our fellow man
and point a finger at his grave

chorus
they’ll know us by the t-shirts that we wear
they’ll know us by the way we point and stare
telling ‘em their sins are worse than ours
thinking we can hide our scars
beneath these t-shirts that we wear

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Lactivists

OK. Back to bodily functions.

I read this CNN article tonight. It’s about the debate over breastfeeding in public. The headline shouts “Lactivists: Where Is It OK To Breastfeed?”

First, I laughed over the term “lactivist.” Women who have become activists about their rights to breastfeed wherever they are when their babies need to eat have been named lactivists. I think that’s very clever. And I love punny plays on words. So “lactivist” has become my new favorite word. 🙂

Next, I want to weigh in with my opinion. While I’m not a lactivist, (I’ve never participated in a nurse-in, which I’m pretty sure you have to do in order to be a card-carrying lactivist) I do think women should legally be allowed to nurse their babies anywhere. I’ve nursed in restaurants, in movie theaters, at parks, during staff meetings at a summer camp, and at family gatherings. But I try to be discreet and keep my breasts covered. I don’t want just anyone and everyone seeing my breasts. I think they are a private part of my body, so I try to keep them covered.

I know women who cannot seem to nurse discreetly. Every time they nurse, they end up flashing everyone around them. Honestly, I can understand why some people would complain about these women nursing in public. I know, these women say the breast is more than a sexual object; it is a natural way to feed our babies. I agree. But in our culture, like it or not, the breast is a sexual object and is considered a private body part. That’s why it’s sexual harassment if a man touches a woman on her breast, but it’s not necessarily sexual harassment if a man touches a woman on, say, her forearm. So, most people don’t want to be flashed while they are trying to enjoy a dinner out with their family. Most moms don’t want their 10-year-old sons sitting across from an exposed breast at Cracker Barrel. I can understand that, and nursing moms ought to be sensitive to that.

If all nursing moms were sensitive to that and tried to be discreet, I don’t think anyone would complain. Nobody has ever complained or given me a dirty look for nursing my babies in public. Most people don’t even know that’s what I’m doing. They think I’m holding a sleeping baby close against me. I know this because a lot of people have started to lean in to get a closer look at the sweet, sleeping baby or have started to move the blanket partially covering my baby. Of course, then I’ve covered the baby up completely, leaned away a little, and said, “Thank you;” or if that still doesn’t give them the hint, I’ve smiled and said, “He’s eating now.”

We can breastfeed our babies in public without becoming a public display. We can breastfeed our babies in public without making a statement, without screaming out, “Look at me! I am woman; watch me nurse!”

When I nursed my babies, I would choose the chair against the wall instead of beside the aisle, and I would cover with a blanket or burp cloth when my baby latched on, and if there was any chance my squirmy baby would let go and expose me, I would stay covered with a light cloth while he nursed. This does not mean I was embarrassed by breastfeeding my baby. It means I respect those around me. I tried to keep the private areas of my body private. You can breastfeed your baby in public and still keep your breasts private. That’s what I would say to the lactivists.

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Lifestyle Evangelism

What is lifestyle evangelism? Wikipedia says this is a form of evangelism in which a believer can encourage others to become believers if they demonstrate their faith by living a godly life.

Christians need to be involved in lifestyle evangelism. We all should live a good testimony before others so that God can be glorified.

Matthew 5:16 tells us “Let your light so shine before men, that they may see your good works and glorify your Father in heaven.”

Our lifestyle should reflect the personality of Christ because He lives in us. As we spend more time with God by reading His word and talking with Him, we will know Him better and become more like Him. We won’t be able to stop this from spilling over into our lifestyle. As John the Baptist said, Jesus will increase and we will decrease. (John 3:30)

I fear that some Christians stop there. Just as we cannot effectively share the Gospel of Christ unless we are living out the nature and personality of Christ, we cannot effectively share the Gospel unless we . . . and this is profound . . . share the Gospel with our mouths.

There is a time and place for street preaching and approaching total strangers to give them a tract and tell them about Jesus; but most of us are going to have more opportunities to share Christ with people we know and with whom we have formed a relationship. These are the people who should see Jesus reflected in our lives. They should see that Jesus affects every aspect of our lives —- how we spend our time, how we spend our money, how we raise our children, what books we read, what movies we watch, what traditions we develop. These people should be recipients of our love and mercy and kindness. And they should also hear us talk about our relationship with Christ.

We don’t have to brow-beat everyone with the Bible. We don’t have to preach at people or remind them repeatedly that we think they’re going to Hell. We don’t have to turn every conversation into an altar call. We don’t have to be scary and overbearing and obnoxious. But we should talk about Jesus.

If we’re spending time with God every day and if we’re praying without ceasing, carrying on a sort of non-stop conversation with God throughout the day, then talking about Him will be just as natural as talking about our husband or children. We can start by thinking of certain scenarios and planning ahead what we can say, then we can practice as we are out and about in our lives. After a while, it just becomes natural.

We don’t have to take the person down the Romans Road of Salvation in every conversation, but there will probably come a time in our relationship with an unbeliever when we can lovingly and candidly talk about our love for them and our concern for them. If we’re praying often and are sensitive to the leading of the Holy Spirit, we’ll know when that time is.

Yes, we Christians should be involved in lifestyle evangelism, but let’s not avoid actually talking about the Gospel and call it lifestyle evangelism.

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Sharing The Gospel

I know you all are expecting another post on my kids’ bodily functions, and I hate to disappoint; but I am thinking today about the Christian’s responsibility to spread the Gospel.

The Apostle Paul writes in 1 Corinthians 4:1 — “Let a man so consider us, as servants of Christ and stewards of the mysteries of God.” Paul refers to himself as a steward of the mysteries of God. And he passes those mysteries on to us in his writings. So that makes us stewards of the mysteries of God.

What kind of a steward am I?

Later in 1 Corinthians, Paul writes “For though I am free from all men, I have made myself a servant to all, that I might win the more . . . I have become all things to all men, that I might by all means save some. Now this I do for the gospel’s sake, that I may be partaker of it with you.” (9:19-23)

Am I really trying to serve people, to overlook my own rights and my own right to be right, so that I can win them to Christ?

In 2 Corinthians, Paul wrote “For the love of Christ compels us, because we judge thus that if One died for all, then all died; and He died for all, that those who live should live no longer for themselves, but for Him who died for them and rose again.” (5:14-15)

Am I living for myself? Or am I living a life that is compelled by the love of Christ?

If I am a trustworthy steward of the mysteries of God, and if I am really serving people, and if I am living my life compelled by the love of Christ, then I will not keep the Gospel message to myself. I will share Christ’s love and the good news of His death, burial, and resurrection with everyone I can.

Paul Washer of HeartCry Missionary Society puts it like this on his website:

“There are billions of individuals in the world who have still not heard the Gospel of Jesus Christ. If this does not move us to sorrow and compassion, then the sincerity of our Christian confession should be in question. Billions of people who have yet to hear the Gospel of Jesus Christ! Should we not be disturbed? Should this dreadful reality not make us willing, even eager to do all within our means to make Christ known among the nations? Should it not captivate us and keep us from less important endeavors? Should it not blind us to our own selfish desires? Should it not possess us and drive us to duty? The answer to all these questions thunders forth from the heart of our Lord and His dear apostle:

‘And seeing the multitudes, He felt compassion for them, because they were distressed and downcast, like sheep without a shepherd. Then He said to his disciples, ‘The harvest is plentiful, but the workers are few. Therefore, beseech the Lord of the harvest to send out workers into His harvest field.’ ‘
Matthew 9:36-38, NASB

‘I am telling the truth in Christ, I am not lying, my conscience bearing me witness in the Holy Spirit, I have great sorrow and unceasing grief in my heart. For I could wish that I myself were cursed, separated from Christ for the sake of my brethren, my kindsman according to the flesh, who are Israelites.’
Romans 9:1-4a, NASB

We are called, commissioned, and commanded to lay down our lives so that the Gospel of Jesus Christ might be preached to all nations and to every creature under heaven. Second only to loving God, this is to be our magnificent obsession, the flame to which we are drawn and eventually consumed. There is no nobler task and no greater reason for a man to give away his life than for the Glory of God revealed in the proclamation of the Gospel to the world.”

I couldn’t agree more! And I couldn’t have said it any better!

Do I have a passion for telling others about Christ?

Today, I see most Christians falling into one of two camps: 1. those who look and act just like the world and 2. those who are attempting to completely separate themselves from the world.

Those in the first camp often claim Christians are supposed to be witnesses to those around us; therefore, we must interact with and rub elbows with unsaved people. This is true, but so many of these Christians are not being effective witnesses. These Christians fit in so easily with the world around them that they become comfortable. These believers dress like the world, participate in all the world’s activities, talk like the world, have the same goals as the world, and often don’t bring up the Gospel with people. I will admit to you that it’s very tempting to fit into this category. It’s comfortable. You can have a lot of friends and a nice house and cool cars and your kids don’t have to feel weird or different because they fit in and are popular. You can live the American Dream and go to church on Sundays and Bible Study during the week and pray for the lost and give money to missionaries, and your life isn’t really all that disrupted.

I know God uses Christians in nice houses and with cool cars to do His work; and I know God may lead Christians to be involved in community activities for His glory. But honestly, I know my own heart. It is very easy to get comfortable and to not live radically for Christ. It’s easy to go to the soccer field and visit with friends and cheer on the kids and never share Christ. If God has called us to this lifestyle, then we ought to be living it fully for His glory, compelled by the love of Christ, and sharing the Gospel with everyone we possibly can.

Those in the second camp are a growing population. These Christians really focus on the notion that we are to be a separate people. These Christians homeschool, maybe even home-church, dress in a way that is notably different from the world, and live a purposefully separate life. The tendency I notice is for these Christians to associate mainly with like-minded believers. Most often they speak of protecting and sheltering their children and not wanting to be unequally yoked. In today’s society, this is also very tempting. We all want to protect our children from the sinful influences around us, and it is easier to live as a Christian if I do it hiding out in my own home and with the support of people who think exactly like I do. But these Christians are not effectively sharing the Gospel either. These Christians may look holy and act holy, but the people who need to be influenced by their holiness will never have the opportunity because these Christians won’t stoop to associate with them.

I know God can also use Christians who look and act very un-worldly; I know God leads some Christians to live on farms, have a large family, raise their own food, grind their own wheat, homeschool their children, dress like the Amish, and throw out their TV. But these Christians are not exempt from sharing the heart of God, which is to tell the world of His love and the sacrifice of His Son. If God has called us to this lifestyle, then we ought to be living it fully for His glory, compelled by the love of Christ, and sharing the Gospel with everyone we possibly can.

Jesus’ heart, His main concern, His priority, is displayed in His last words before He ascended: “you shall be witnesses to Me in Jerusalem, and in all Judea and Samaria, and to the end of the earth.” Christ wants His followers, those who have received the indwelling of His Holy Spirit (which is ALL believers), to be His witnesses all over the earth.

Is His priority MY priority? Is His main concern, MY main concern? I want to be a faithful steward of this Truth He has entrusted with me. To be a faithful steward, I should be sharing the Truth so that His investment in me can be multiplied.

I have received the command; I have received the provision; will I obey? Do I love Him and others? Or do I love only myself?

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Some Positive Thoughts (before you schedule an intervention)

Because my last post has provoked people to offer me chocolate, movie tickets, airline tickets, and prozac, and because I fear my venting may have been an unintentional advertisement for birth control, I vow to post positive things today.

Some snippets of how wonderful my children can be: (I like to call these the light at the end of the tunnel moments, when I catch a glimpse of how all our teaching and training is sinking in.)

* When I had a bad migraine on Sunday, Caleb curled up beside me and smoothed my hair off my forehead. Then he leaned over and very gently kissed my head and told me how he hoped I felt better soon. He sat with me for several minutes (which is like a couple months in boy-time).

* Last night, as the thunder clapped and lightening flashed, Rachel sweetly sang her big sister, Lauren, to sleep. “Be brave, be strong, for the Lord your God is with you. Be brave, be strong, there’s nothing He can’t do.” I just stood in the shadows of the kitchen listening to Rachel encourage Lauren with scripture songs, reminding her of the truth that our God is mightier than the loud thunder and bright lightening.

* Randomly throughout my day, Silas runs full-speed at me to give me a giant kiss or hug. Sometimes those hugs and kisses are the absolute best three seconds of my day.

* Every time I open Jackson’s car door to get him out of his car-seat, he turns his head, half-closes his eyes, and pretends to snore. He can’t help but smile, so he always has the cutest goofy grin on his face as I lean over to kiss his cheek and wake him up.

* Some mornings Lauren makes coffee for her coffee-loving daddy. Only eight years old, she can put in the filter, scoop out the coffee, fill the pot with water, pour it in the machine, close it up, and watch it drip. Then she can pour it into his cup and add the preferred amount of creamer and sweetener. She loves to surprise Daddy by bringing him a cup of hot coffee on Saturday mornings.

* Before lunch yesterday, Caleb prayed (because Wednesday is his day to pray before meals) and after giving the usual thanks for the food and every member of our family and asking God the obligatory “help us have a good day;” out of the blue, he began thanking Jesus for taking our sins and dying on the cross for us and letting us come and be with Him forever and making it so we don’t have to go to Hell. I love it when those prayers come out of the middle of nowhere because it assures me my children do think about these truths even when I’m not preaching it at them.

* At nearly every meal, one of the children will volunteer to be last. They call it being “best for last” because of the Bible verse about the first being last and the last being first. They want to be best for last! I love that.

Now, we are cranking up Go Fish (link at right) and taking all the toys out of the boys’ room to sort through. Daddy is going to put together the “three-headed” bunk bed tonight, and everyone is excited. We’ve gotten the additional parts to make the boys’ regular Flexa bunk bed into a triple bunk. Of course, that doesn’t sound as exciting as a “three-headed” bunk, which is what my boys love to call it. (We also have a “two-headed” stroller.) So . . . . as we listen to the song about the ladybug frying on the sidewalk, we’re getting to work!

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Looking For Me

OK. Before I start today, I just want to say that no matter what I am about to say, I love being a mom. I love my six children. They are wonderful and beautiful, and I’m sure they will grow into adults I am proud of. I love my husband. I’ve covered that in a recent post. 🙂 And I love being a stay-at-home mom. I would not want to miss out on the day-to-day stuff of raising my children. I love being the one to watch the amazing discoveries in Caleb’s “Will It Float?” games; and I’m so glad I am the one to help settle the arguments and restore peace; and I wouldn’t want anyone else helping them learn their colors or letters.

Now, having said that, I need to vent.

In the day-to-day-ness of raising these children, it is very easy to lose myself. This is one of those weeks.

Our house is a wreck. We have too many people and too much stuff crammed in here. I need a bulldozer to come through and take it all away (just the stuff, not the people). I want to clean a room (or I’d settle for a corner of a room) and have it stay clean and orderly for more than three minutes. I am tired of cleaning up cereal that got dumped out onto the counter, then the floor, when someone was sneaking a handful. I am tired of fishing a boy out of the dog’s water or the bathroom sink. I’m tired of stepping on Legos and Little People.

Yes, I know, there will be a day when the children are long gone and I’ll desperately want to step on a Lego again. But please, humor me, I’m in the middle of this now; and if I step on one more Little Person, I may have to throw Maggie and Eddie and Farmer Jed right out the window.

I’m also sick of the smell of urine. I’m tired of bed-wetting and leaky diapers. It’s almost impossible to get the smell of pee out of fleece blankets! Yes, I know white vinegar can do the trick; but I really wish I didn’t *have* to know that!

I used to diagram sentences for fun! I used to read actual literature. Now I’m lucky to get through an entire article in Reader’s Digest. I used to speak in multisyllables. I used to have entire conversations without anybody touching my arm to interrupt (five hundred times). I used to leave scissors out in plain view, never dreaming the day would come when I’d hide them and then sneak away to retrieve them when I needed to cut something.

Somewhere deep inside me is a witty person, able to carry on long, intelligent conversations. Somewhere in there is a woman who loves to travel –without packing everything in our house. Somewhere, buried under the nose-wiper, sandwich-maker I have become, is a person who listens to music that isn’t sung by someone in costume.

On days like this and weeks like this, I want to scream and remind myself — I am more than a yucky-smell-remover. I am more than a toy-picker-upper. I am more than a bottom-wiper and diaper-changer. I am more than a laundry-folder. I am smart and capable and I will not be undone by the actions of a two-year-old. I could be doing anything, anything, I wanted to; and I am here wiping noses, picking up toys, settling arguments, washing bedding because I want to be here. I have chosen this. I intentionally choose to lay aside Jane Austen and pick up Sandra Boynton. I intentionally choose to put away Trivial Pursuit and pull out Candyland.

Whew! That helps. I feel better already. And after the kids go to bed, I can get out Jane Austen and Trivial Pursuit and feel like me again. Just a few more hours to go!

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Toilet Talk

I think my 2-year-old drank water from the toilet today. Yes, this is the moment that will earn me that Mom of the Year Award. My daughter came running into the room half-screaming in horror, half-laughing, “Momma! Jackson is drinking from the toilet!” I jumped up, sprinting through the house calling out for Jack. He waddled into the kitchen with a large plastic cup in his hands and water dripping from his shirt and shorts. As he smiled up at me, I promise you he looked very proud of himself.

Gross! What is the fascination with toilets? My boys are absolutely intrigued with toilets. Unless, of course, I want them to actually potty in the toilet. Evidently, I’m horrible at potty-training. Perhaps I haven’t thoroughly explained the use of the toilet. Maybe I’ve made it look a little too fun. Now, they don’t want to put yucky stuff in the toilet (they’d rather dribble that on the living room carpet). They want to get drinks from the toilet or drop Grandmama’s novels into it or squirt toothpaste all over the seat. They want to dip Daddy’s toothbrush into the potty and see if big sister’s doll can swim.

Caleb finally got the hang of using the potty — just in time to turn 5. Yes, 5. We actually had to make a rule that you can’t turn 5 unless you’re potty-trained. So, with that motivation, he went the obligatory full week of no accidents just in time to mail out the invitations to his party. Yes, I know he could have done it much sooner. Probably a full year sooner. But it’s not like I could force him to go on the toilet. I learned with my first child that if I battled about using the potty, I couldn’t win; and I don’t pick battles I can’t win. Like it or not, when it comes to using or not using the potty, the kid’s in control.

Since the whole “you can’t have a birthday until you potty” thing worked with Caleb, we have implemented the same incentive with Silas. He wants to turn 4 in August. So today he wore ScoobyDoo underwear most of the day. He actually went in the toilet (after I wiped all the toothpaste off the seat) instead of on the living room carpet. Mid-afternoon, he came racing into the living room to give me a high-five and exclaim, “I peed standing up!” That’s a huge deal for boys. Hey, if that’s what motivates him, I’m not complaining. I’ll just high-five him and praise him for being a big boy now.

I’ve got my fingers crossed that the ScoobyDoo underwear and standing up to pee are the deal-maker for Silas and potty-training. That and the promise of getting chewing gum. (In our family, you only get chewing gum if you’re potty-trained.) And with Jackson’s new fascination with the toilet, maybe he’ll discover that it’s much better to make water into the toilet than drink water from the toilet.

But I’m not holding my breath on that one. It would just be too shocking for me to potty-train a child before he turns 3. I’m sure I have many more months of toothbrushes, cups, books, and dolls in the toilet before Jack figures out the real use. Actually using the bathroom isn’t as much fun as playing in it.

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