Teaching Humility

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How do we teach our children to be humble when we so often miss the point of it?

What is humility? How do we protect our children from the sin of pride, while at the same time teaching them that they are valuable and important?

For too many years, I thought humility was to depreciate myself, to cling to my failings and faults in order to refuse value. I thought humility was always being aware of my failings, my sins — to live in degradation because of the things I do or have done wrong…in other words, to continually pay for the consequences of my sins. I have lived in the shadow of seeking to be perfect because I didn’t believe I had value otherwise. I have struggled with teaching my children to be humble because I did not understand humility myself. I have heard parents say they did not want to praise their children’s accomplishments because they didn’t want to teach them to be prideful. I do not want my children to believe they were less than they are. I want them to know I believe in them and I am pleased with their accomplishments!

God has been working on my heart. I have realized that humility is very much like courage. Courage is strongest in the face of danger. A person who never faces a challenge, who never faces danger, cannot be called courageous; so also, a person who does not believe in their value cannot be called humble.

If we do not have an intrinsic understanding of our value, we cannot truly understand humility.

Let’s look at some Biblical examples. Who does Scripture admonish to be humble? At first, it is the Israelite nation. Why? They have intrinsic, God-given value. God made it abundantly clear to them that He held them in high regard. He literally moved oceans, rivers, and armies to prove how much He cared for them. They KNEW, without a shadow of a doubt, that they were chosen to be God’s special people. What did they do with this knowledge, however? A lot of the time they used it to set themselves apart from the other nations. They set themselves up as more valuable than other people because they had God’s favor. So often, they took the special favor given them by God and decided it was their right rather than their gift. They forgot the source of their value. They sought perfection to hold onto His favor instead of seeking Him. They refused to be humble. In turn, they had to be humbled.

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God doesn’t want proud people. Prideful people treat others with disrespect and abuse. He wants us to understand we are valuable and then show others that they, too, are valuable.

Pride is believing you alone are valuable and have the right to hurt or hold others down so you look more valuable than they are.

Then there is self-degradation. Self-degradation is refusing to believe you have value, focusing only on your failings, and believing that you cannot have value until you have achieved perfection. This is disproved in Scripture time and time again.

Self-degradation, the belief that you have no intrinsic value, is pride, not humility. It stands beside pride in believing that you alone are responsible for achieving value.

Though there are many examples through Scripture, you really only need to look at one character to see this: David. David was a simple shepherd, without value in his family of origin, shrouded in mystery, small in size, without anything to recommend him when Samuel anoints him to be the next king of Israel. Suddenly, his life does a complete turnaround and he is pretty much left reeling from the changes. What David does have to begin with is a deep understanding of his value in God’s eyes.

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David understands that all his accomplishments are because God has provided them and protected him. Even knowing that, even understanding that God was beside him and eager to answer any question he had, David was not perfect. Sometimes he forgot to ask God what to do. Sometimes he blatantly chose to sin, such as when he committed adultery with Bathsheba and had Uriah killed. Sometimes he made huge errors in judgment because he neglected to check in with God. History, however, tells us that no matter what David did, God continued to show him favor. David didn’t need to be perfect; he needed to maintain his humbleness by remembering where his favor came from, returning to God every time he messed up, and using his favor to help others.

Humility comes from understanding God holds your value; it is a gift meant to be shared. Humility is understanding you don’t have to be perfect, you don’t have to accomplish it all or be strong enough to sustain life. Humility is remembering where you have come from, what you have survived; it is knowing you have value despite the mistakes and errors made along the way. It is seeing the full journey, recognizing God’s hand in your life and treating others the same way.

This is what humbleness is. Humbleness is knowing intrinsically what your value is and Who it comes from, and helping others to see the same value in themselves.

So, how do I teach my children to be humble? I have to start by teaching them they are valued, that they are loved, that they are important. I need to teach them that their failings and mistakes will never affect their value in my eyes or in God’s. Then, I have to teach them to treat every other person they interact with as valuable also. Only then will they truly understand the meaning of humility.

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The Why of Jesus’ Birth

“For unto us a child is born, unto us a son is given: and the government shall be upon His shoulder: and His name shall be called Wonderful, Counsellor, The mighty God, The everlasting Father, The Prince of Peace,” Isaiah 9:6.

In all the hustle and bustle of Christmas preparations, do we take the time to really think about what the birth of Jesus is all about? There’s also the confusion with the fact that the day we celebrate His birth has its roots in a pagan day.  While we know that Christmas is not the true day of Christ’s birth, we need to understand why He was born at all. Why didn’t Jesus just come down from heaven and live a week or so, then be killed and rise a day or so later? Wouldn’t that have saved us?

With all the controversy over Christmas — from the view that it is totally pagan and should never be celebrated, to the view that it’s roots are insignificant and it should be fully celebrated — maybe we should change our focus to why Jesus would come as baby at all.

As I have pondered why Jesus would come to this earth and be born as a baby, I have seen an importance that we usually miss or pass over lightly. We often look at the cross as being the only thing for our salvation. The cross gives us the forgiveness we need, but His birth gives us the reason and strength to learn how to live godly lives. The why of Jesus’ birth is to give us the desire and strength to live our lives with the connection to Heaven that Jesus had, and to give us the victory over our sinful ways. To have this connection with God in our daily life, as Jesus did, will give us the strength to overcome. This should be something we do every day, so we should celebrate Jesus birth and death every day. Both are vital to our salvation in our lives day by day.

As we enjoy this Christmas season, after all the celebrations and dinners are over, let us not lose the importance of what Jesus came for, and remember His birth every day.

Seeking After God: Seven Topics to Pray About Daily

In today’s world it is more important than ever to be vigilant so that we are not deceived by Satan. We are living in a time where tensions are high, the news is becoming more and more disturbing, and uncertainty plagues the hearts of people both small and great. We know from reading Daniel and Revelation, and from Jesus’ prophecies in the Gospels, that things will only get worse before His return. However, this doesn’t mean we have been abandoned, or that God no longer cares. We do not need to fear, because Jesus has overcome the world (John 16:33). This is the time to strengthen our faith in the One whose Salvation we are sure of! This is also the time to pray earnestly for our children, spouses, friends, and family. Especially as a mother and teacher, I believe warfare prayers are included in my responsibility to God and my children.

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On that note, I want to challenge and encourage you on the subject of prayer for our children and families. The following is a short list of seven topics that I pray about frequently. It changes from time to time, as some issues need more focus, but in general, these are the matters that weigh heaviest on my heart. It is my prayer that this will strengthen and embolden you this school year as you raise and educate your children in the fear of the Lord.

1. Prayers for God to reveal to me what I don’t know that I don’t know. In plain English, these are the areas where I am ignorant, that I am unknowingly blind about. This is an important one since it is my intense desire to know and understand God’s plan for me and my family. As Maya Angelou said, “Do the best you can until you know better. Then when you know better, do better.” Following closely in this topic are prayers for wisdom and discernment (Proverbs 2:6, Romans 12:2, Matthew 6:33, Jeremiah 29:12-13).

2. Prayers for safety — physically, mentally, spiritually, and emotionally (Psalm 91). We are fighting a spiritual battle against an enemy that has no scruples, and will cunningly attack us in any way possible to shake our faith in God (Ephesians 6:12).

3. Prayers for strength of character: that we will be quick to forgive (Ephesians 4:31-32), slow to judge (Matthew 7:1-6, Luke 6:37), and graciously show love and mercy to others (Luke 6:35-36). This also includes praying for the character of Christ and the Gifts of the Spirit to be manifested in/through us (Matthew 5:16).

4. Prayers against generational sins and weakness/temptations that may be difficult to overcome. I pray that God reveals what needs changing in order to break the cycle (Exodus 20:5-6). It’s important to note that we often relate to God in the way that we relate/related to our earthly parents. Praying for healing from these types of issues in our family lines can often be beneficial to growing our relationship with God. These will be different for each family:
– Fear
– Anger/hate
– Abandonment/distrust
– Jealousy
– Sexual sin
– Dishonesty/Denial

5. Prayers for the future: jobs, homes, spouses, children. It is my deepest desire that my children delight themselves in the Lord, so that they too may partake of the blessing in Psalms 37:4-5 (Psalms 37:4-5, Matthew 7:11).

6. Prayers for the outpouring of the Holy Spirit. In order to effectively reach out to our family, friends, and community, we need the Holy Spirit (Joel 2:28-32). No matter what our age or where we go, when we give the Holy Spirit permission to work in us, much can be accomplished. There have been times where I have been amazed at the ministering God was giving me the ability to do, and then I realized it was all because of those prayers, begging God to fill me so that I could let His light shine out to others (Matthew 5:16, again, because it’s the result of this request).

7. Prayers for our will to match God’s will; for Q ualities such as compassion, and love for others, as well as for the truth; for understanding our life’s purpose, and trusting that He knows what’s best for us and our families, even if it doesn’t appear to be (Luke 22:42, Romans 8:28-39).

There are many, many more topics, and I could fill pages with Bible verses further referencing these thoughts, but hopefully this list has triggered some ideas. I’d like to close with a blessing from Deuteronomy 28:3-13, that is my prayer for you this year:

“Blessed shalt thou be in the city, and blessed shalt thou be in the field. Blessed shall be the fruit of thy body, and the fruit of thy ground, and the fruit of thy cattle, the increase of thy kine, and the flocks of thy sheep. Blessed shall be thy basket and thy store. Blessed shalt thou be when thou comest in, and blessed shalt thou be when thou goest out. The Lord shall cause thine enemies that rise up against thee to be smitten before thy face: they shall come out against thee one way, and flee before thee seven ways. The Lord shall command the blessing upon thee in thy storehouses, and in all that thou settest thine hand unto; and he shall bless thee in the land which the Lord thy God giveth thee. The Lord shall establish thee an holy people unto himself, as he hath sworn unto thee, if thou shalt keep the commandments of the Lord thy God, and walk in his ways. And all people of the earth shall see that thou art called by the name of the Lord; and they shall be afraid of thee. And the Lord shall make thee plenteous in goods, in the fruit of thy body, and in the fruit of thy cattle, and in the fruit of thy ground, in the land which the Lord sware unto thy fathers to give thee. The Lord shall open unto thee his good treasure, the heaven to give the rain unto thy land in his season, and to bless all the work of thine hand: and thou shalt lend unto many nations, and thou shalt not borrow. And the Lord shall make thee the head, and not the tail; and thou shalt be above only, and thou shalt not be beneath; if that thou hearken unto the commandments of the Lord thy God, which I command thee this day, to observe and to do them.”

Musings of a Christian Homeschool Mom at Kilauea

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On a tour of Kilauea’s visitor center on the Big Island of Hawaii, my kids could not miss the dramatic artwork crediting the goddess Pele with Creation, 70 million years ago.

As a Christian who believes in a short earth history and intelligent design, I’ve long since learned to overlook references to long ages and macro-evolution. But, now I’m homeschooling my children, and their inquiries about Pele demanded an answer.

It’s possible to give a short “don’t touch!” answer to these questions. Or, we can find the fallacies within the system of paganism and point them out. We can cut through the intrigue and romanticism and nip those seemingly magnetic forces in the bud. This was the route my husband and I chose, and here are some of the ways we explained the attraction of Pele to our middle school/junior high-aged children:

  • Hawaii’s pre-Christian culture was polytheistic, and Pele was revered as the fire goddess who even today continues to “create” through powerful, awe-inspiring — and deadly — forces beyond man’s control. Indeed, Kilauea adds 40 acres of coastline to Hawaii each year. And yet, Pele’s barren landscape carries none of the fertility of God’s original creation, at least until many, many years pass and seeds sprout in some crevice amongst the black rock.The old pagan religion was abolished in 1819 on Hawaii’s islands, yet Pele’s popularity is experiencing a revival. Perhaps part of the allure is that this volcano started erupting in 1983 and is still going strong — the longest recorded volcanic eruption in history. It also has been erupting almost continuously according to oral and written history. Kilauea is Hawaii’s youngest and most active shield volcano, and research at this site has yielded much scientific knowledge regarding volcanic activity.
  • Even as volcanic activity has increased in the last 200 years, paganism has reemerged as a world religion, and geology has always been entwined with pagan ideology. The late, renowned Stephen Jay Gould admitted in his book, Time’s Arrow, Time’s Cycle, that pagan philosophy influenced the development of evolutionary theory far more than the rocks in the field; in fact, the pagan concepts of deep, cyclical time preceded field observations.
  • To put this in plain language: Cyclical, deep time is pagan, while the Judeo-Christian version of time can be pictured as an arrow moving forward, with a definite beginning and looking forward to a definite end. The reason for this may be found in the Bible: There is a political contest for control over earth, and this contest had a beginning…and there will be an end. Our earth is the one and only spot in the entire universe with a ball and chain called “time.” Eternity is the rule of every other place in the universe. Therefore, “time” and “death” are essentially synonymous. With time and death come a “beginning” and an “end.”
  • Christians understand that God had a plan to redeem this planet from Satan’s control after Adam’s fall (see the original prophecy in Genesis 3:15 — a contest of “seeds”). Christians understand that eternity may be grasped through accepting Jesus as our Creator, our Sacrifice, and our Redeemer. And, at the end of this earth’s proverbial time arrow, Jesus himself will put an end to death. He will put an end to time’s arrow, and replace it with the gift of eternity.
  • Pagans, on the other hand, are ignoring God’s plan of redemption; they deny the need. Paganism has accepted a false creator, a false savior, and a false redeemer. Paganism ignores God’s judgment on this earth and says there is “no need for God. Eternity may be grasped here and now; heaven is here and now. Time is of no consequence; death is of no consequence. Time is a cycle ever-repeating.”
  • As we toured the visitor’s center at Kilauea, the volcano’s power of destruction was showcased. The combination of fears — of the unknown, the supernatural, and death — with the mythology of Pele invoked an overwhelming sense of awe. Perhaps we can better understand why the Bible says, “the fear of the LORD is the beginning of wisdom, and knowledge of the Holy One is understanding. For through me your days will be many, and years will be added to your life. If you are wise, your wisdom will reward you; if you are a mocker, you alone will suffer,” Proverbs 9:10-12.
  • This mockery is mentioned in 2 Peter 3:3-7: “In the last days scoffers will come, scoffing and following their own evil desires. They will say, ‘Where is this coming he promised?’…. But they deliberately forget that long ago by God’s word the heavens existed and the earth was formed out of water and by water. By these waters also the world of that time was deluged and destroyed. By the same word the present heavens and earth are reserved for fire, being kept for the day of judgment and destruction of ungodly men.”
  • God as our Creator and our Judge, Who also wields the power to create and to destroy, is a key theme to wisdom. The truths of the Bible match up with a short-earth chronology. They match up with a Designer rather than chance. The mythology of the world cannot compare to the straight line of truth found in God’s word. When compared, one can see how the same stories of history (Cain & Abel, Noah’s Ark, the Tower of Babel) are found within myths, but they have been twisted by pagan ideology. Paganism is simply a copycat with no real power to create or to destroy permanently, as the living God of Heaven will soon destroy the earth’s ball and chain of death and time.

Touring national parks is an amazing way to spend time learning about God’s creation and about the history of an area or culture, yet these parks are steeped in a secular background. Understanding the language of paganism and the fallacies within can help us fend off the attraction of the mysterious for our children. It’s not truly mysterious at all; the real mystery is how God entered the political contest for earth’s kingship, and that He is preparing to return for His citizens. Time is an arrow…and we’re at the pointed end.

 

I Give You Permission (Steps to Banish the Guilt)

I Give You Permission

I give you permission to be still, to exalt in the silence, to close your eyes and rest whenever a peaceful moment presents itself. Housework can wait.

I give you permission to trust. To not let worries over-take your thoughts, and unseen events rob you of the peace in your heart.

I give you permission to relax, even though the dishes haven’t been done, and laundry is calling your name.

I give you permission to breathe deeply, laugh, and experience the joys of motherhood with all your heart.

I give you permission to love unconditionally, feel intensely, and cherish special moments with family and friends.

I give you permission to hope for the best in difficult situations.

I give you permission to cry in times of anger or despair, and pray you remember to cry out to the One who loves you, created you and knows your situation better than anyone else.

I give you permission to take care of yourself. To walk in the woods, read a book, eat healthfully, or take a bubble bath.

I give you permission to have bad days. And then, to let go of the anger and frustration, before it turns to bitterness and hate. We all have bad days, we all mess up. Praise God, there is forgiveness and a new day tomorrow!

I give you permission to let go–of grudges, guilt, and perfectionism; to allow God to speak His life-giving into your soul; to release the bitterness and toxicity, and embrace forgiveness.

I give you permission to wear your favorite dress, shoes, or jeans for no reason at all–other than that it makes you feel happy.

I give you permission to experience joy fully, to feel the rush that laughter brings

I give you permission to feel sadness, to mourn a loss, or change. Grief is not an enemy–guilt is.

I give you permission to take a break from homeschooling for the day (or week). Sometimes we need “mental health” days more than we need to learn multiplication, or History.

I give you permission to love yourself despite the flaws, shattered dreams, and baggage. Despite failed relationships, marriage, or abuse that haunts your past.

I give you permission to sleep peacefully, to know that tomorrow is in God’s hands. That there is nothing that can separate us from the Love of God (Romans 8:38-39), and that so far, you have survived 100% of your roughest days.

I give you permission to have your own opinions and ideas. To differ from other moms on parenting, schooling, and eating styles. To know your children, and that what works for you all as a family, doesn’t have to work for anyone else.

I give you permission to have sick days. To lay on the couch and watch movies, cook a frozen pizza–and not feel guilty.

I give you permission to love your husband and intimately spend quality time with him. Remember the days when you were newlyweds? Yeah, so does he. He is attracted to you just as much now, maybe even more so, in spite of your stretchmarks or the weight you’ve gained.

I give you permission to be adventurous, to pursue your dreams, and use your God-given talents.

I give you permission to eat cake or pie for breakfast (with ice cream!) when the mood hits. Revel in every delicious, mouthwatering bite! It’s good to enjoy a treat without thinking of the calories or sugar content every now and then.

I give you permission to take care of your spiritual needs. To devote time to prayer and Bible study and getting to know the God of our universe more intimately. Remember the verse in Matthew 4:4 (or Deuteronomy 8:3) “Man shall not live by bread alone, but by every word that proceeds out of the mouth of God”? He is your Life-Giver, Jesus gave His life for you; It’s ok to worship!

I give you permission to be romantic. To enjoy sunsets, flowers, the smell of rain in the air, poetry, horseback rides, hot chocolate, love notes, warm summer days, and crisp fall evenings.

And finally,
I give you permission to know, in the deepest depths of your heart, that you are a  beloved child of the King. He has not forgotten, or given up on you. He is coming back, and He’s looking forward to spending eternity together. You are worth it.