Wednesday, December 08, 2010

Friday, October 01, 2010

What is at the heart of disobedience?

I got an email this morning with the a catchy subject line: Addressing the Primary Root of Disobedience

Catchy line. Made me open it. I was surprised at what I read: a long opinion on the importance of respect in the house (a very important thing!) and the lifelong rewards of learning to respect your parents (no argument there) . What surprised me was absolutely no mention of why anyone has the inclination or urge to disrespect in the first place. To teach the importance and rewards of respect without helping your child understand why they do it is more than useless; such teaching would tend to promote the idea that a child's behavior and choices will be his or her salvation. If you are very, very good, then you will not do these things; and if you do these things, you are very, very bad. Respect is an extremely important behavior to learn and teach, but to teach it without teaching law (you are born a sinner and are separated from God because of your sins) and gospel ( Christ died to save you from the penalty of your sins. Go forth and live in thanksgiving and praise for your salvation). That's how I read this article. How about you?

Two of your kids are fighting, another one won't pick up his toys, and your teenager just revealed the tattoo she got without your permission. You're exhausted, and all you want is peace.

You're not alone.

For many, disciplining children is a daily challenge. When it comes to discipline in my home, I only have one rule: respect.

Disrespect is the primary root of disobedience. Looking through Scripture, Adam and Eve sinned because they did not respect God's command. Cain killed Abel because he did not respect his brother's life. Lying, stealing, vandalism, strife and disobedience stem from an attitude of disrespect toward someone or something.

When your toddler pulls the dog's tail or your teenager rolls her eyes, it's — you guessed it — disrespect.

I'd choose this message instead:

Sin is the primary root of disobedience. Looking through Scripture, Adam and Eve sinned because they did not respect God's command. Cain killed Abel because he did not respect his brother's life. Lying, stealing, vandalism, strife and disobedience and disrespect stem from sin.

When your toddler pulls the dog's tail or your teenager rolls her eyes, it's — you guessed it — sin.

The close of the article is also off base in its clear message that its our job to master behavior and God is there to fill in the gaps if (not when) we fail. I've known many teens who successfully learned to act saintly while in their parents home, only to be completely unprepared to deal with sin issues on their own.

Emphasizing respect and honoring people are biblical concepts. Believers are told to respect the law (Proverbs 13:13), honor parents (Deuteronomy 5:16) and live lives worthy of respect (1 Thessalonians 4:11-12). With respect woven throughout Scripture, it's no wonder that it makes for a strong foundation for family and offers meaningful reward.

When I set a standard of respect in my home, the reward was relationship. My children became people I liked to have around. They trusted me as someone who respected and believed in them. Peace reigned and communication flowed between us.

But I didn't do this alone. God has been my guide and my support. His wisdom and strength carried me through the times when I felt too weary to press forward. His grace made up the difference when I fell short. And ultimately, He was my inspiration for my standard of respect.

I see a danger in teaching our children that we will have a relationship only if they act correctly. Scripture teaches that all of our children are born into sin and are in need of a savior. Although I strive to be someone who is worthy of imitation, I have made it a point to teach my children that I am in the same boat as they are. I instead point them to the cross. It is the ultimate act of pure grace that God created a way for us to have a relationship with him through the sacrificial death of his Son, Jesus Christ. The best models of God's grace I've seen are those who show others grace at the most unexpected moments...when least deserved.

Tuesday, August 03, 2010

Mark 16:16 goes WITH Mark 16:15

One thing I appreciate is being reminded to interpret scripture by using scripture, particularly the verses before and after!

Common question:

Why do Lutherans baptize infants when the Bible says, "Believe and be baptized?" This passage teaches that baptism is for the person who has accepted Christ and wants the Holy Spirit to come into his life.

What the passage actually teaches:

Believing in Jesus, that is, having saving faith, is indeed a requirement to receive divine blessings of personal forgiveness through baptism as well as through the Lord's Supper or the Word of God itself. But this is not a prerequisite for baptism. In fact, saving faith is given through baptism.

The Mark 16:16 passage is explained by the prior verse, Mark 16:15. Jesus is instructing his followers to preach the gospel. Then what follows makes perfect sense: whoever believes and is baptized will be saved.

If someone is converted by the Holy Spirit through the Word (as an adult, for example), the faith comes first and baptism will follow (so that the Holy Spirit will strengthen that faith). For obvious reasons, in the case of infants baptism is applied to them to create faith and then instruction in the Word follows to strengthen that faith. Questions or statements based on a person "accepting" Christ and "proclaiming his faith" through baptism are based on a false understanding of how people become believers and what baptism is and does. No one "accepts" Jesus on his own since by nature fallen mankind has no free will whatsoever in spiritual matters. Faith is a gift of God through Word and sacraments. And baptism is a work of God through which God proclaims promises and gives spiritual blessing; it is not given as a human work or testimony or act of obedience.

Tuesday, July 27, 2010


My family and I have gone through a multitude of changes. We've also been very, very busy. Busy + change does NOT equal time for reflection and blogging, not surprisingly. I anticipate time for reflection and writing once both are kids leave for college in a month.

Monday, April 12, 2010

God comes to us.

“It will also come to pass that before they call, I will answer” (Isaiah 65:24).

Ephesians 2:8–9 (NIV)

For it is by grace you have been saved, through faith—and this not from yourselves, it is the gift of God— not by works, so that no one can boast.

Michael Spencer has died.

Michael Spencer , known fondly as the Internet Monk, has died. I had been waiting and watching for the news, but somehow missed it during Easter week. My first thought selfishly was that this is a first for me: a life and death known to me solely by the internet. I'm glad of I knew him, even if only virtually! Michael wrote of his differences with the earthly church he served, and of his relationship with his wife amidst her change in faith practices, and it blessed me greatly! While he was never a martyr for the faith, he clung to faith in Christ in the face of more criticism than most of us face for our faith. I was also deeply touched by his honest comments when his wife turned to the Catholic church.

John posts on his life and death at Confessing Evangelical blog. Below is Michael's last public statement, written after he knew he would most likely be dying much sooner than he had ever imagined:

Real apologetics

The ultimate apologetic is to a dying man.

That is what all those “Where is God?” statements in the Psalms are all about. They are, at least partially, invitations to Christians to speak up for the dying.

All the affirmations to God as creator and designer are fine, but it is as the God of the dying that the Christian has a testimony to give that absolutely no one else can give.

We need to remember that each day dying people are waiting for the word of death and RESURRECTION.

The are a lot of different kinds of Good News, but there is little good news in “My argument scored more points than you argument.” But the news that “Christ is risen!” really is Good News for one kind of person: The person who is dying.

If Christianity is not a dying word to dying men, it is not the message of the Bible that gives hope now.

What is your apologetic? Make it the full and complete announcement of the Life Giving news about Jesus.

As John wrote, "Amen. See you at the resurrection, Michael."

Wednesday, March 24, 2010

Dealing with a virtual death

Today, many in the virtual Christian blogosphere are dealing with the news that Michael Spencer (known as Internet Monk on his blog or @imonk on Twitter has stopped his cancer treatment and has elected hospice. I've followed him off and on since 2004. The news is also being discussed at Boar's Head Tavern.

Death and sin are ugly realities of our world. Anger is justified. Our source of hope is clear.

Peace to the Spencer family.

Saturday, February 06, 2010

Fear And The Word, part 2

I had a wonderful conversation with a co-worker last night. We had both stayed late on a Friday night, which in hindsight is rather unusual. I was making up time and she was getting things organized for her vacation next week. As we walked back and forth in the office, each taking care of our business, I kept noticing that something just wasn't right with her. A well-meaning friend had cast judgment on her based on nothing but speculation and fear. We were led into a long discussion of our former backgrounds in fundamentalist Christian practice, discovering balanced law and gospel churches, the depravity of our souls and our wonderful gift of undeserved grace and of the true meaning of freedom in Christ. It was obvious to both of us that God had ordained that very moment at the copier where we suddenly were open to each other's state of being. And it wasn't just me somehow reassuring her through Christ's words; I was also healed and refreshed in a very unexpected way. I HATE mushy stuff like that, which made it all the more amazing! :)

Friday, February 05, 2010

Break over.

Break over. Time to start writing again. Writing is a funny thing. For years words can pour out like rain or tears and then there's suddenly nothing left to say. At least for a while. I am so thankful that I have this record of my thoughts as a I transitioned from a fundamentalist lifestyle to a grace-based lifestyle. Does anyone blog anymore? Do any of my old readers even check this blog any more. I'll find out, I guess. I spend a lot of time on Twitter because it suits me well. I follow several of the old Confessional Lutheran bloggers gang of 2004. I've also met some new Lutheran bloggers through Twitter. That's cool!

What have I been doing for the past couple of years? Mostly working for my dad, trying to keep a warm and loving home and dealing with the chronic pain God has chosen to allow in my life. Also, what has kept me from writing is the less-controllable later teen years. When my kids were younger teens, I did not feel uncomfortable detailing their experiences (always anonymously). Then the later teen years hit, life got less picture-perfect (for me anyway) and I no longer felt that I had a right to write anything about them. What is left to write when your children are everything about you? As I've made the transition from living 24/7 with my children to being there for them, as they need, while forging their adult lives, I can see now my ability and right to reclaim my writing for myself. I am no longer 100% my children. I am slowly learning how to be me again. It was sad, at first, but now I am seeing the light at the end of the transitional tunnel. My husband and I are beginning to remember that we really like each other and like being with each other. That's pretty cool, I think. What a huge blessing. So many of our dear friends have discovered the opposite and have separated. At least 50 to 75% of our hockey friends are now divorced, baseball less so. Don't know why. Thankfully, most are pretty civil toward each other and tolerate us remaining friendly with both "sides".

Pain is also a very difficult and distracting companion in my life. It robs me of my thoughts or at least bends my thoughts towards it. That sucks. I am so ready to be done defining my life by pain...and yet it is still with me. My leg rarely stops aching. I'm like the fictional Greg House, thankfully without the Vicodin. But I do live with my friend, Tramadol. He's a distant cousin of Vicodin...related by marriage. My lower back is recovering, but the compression on the nerve cannot, so far, be lifted. I am continuing to battle, but progress is slow. What needs to happen is that I keep swimming (literally, in a salt water pool), continue with massage and chiropractic, move around as much as I can without actually walking (that's a trick) and become very lean. I would like to lose 50 pounds, which would make me very lean, but would help greatly going forward.

Work is the other tricky thing in my life. I need to work, but I'd like to develop a different way to earn the income needed. I sit all day long and this only compounds my pain problem. My work situation is very toxic for my body, currently. On the other hand, I really enjoy working for my father, I love the sales environment and the customer service aspect of my job. And I really enjoy the people of this office! I need to evaluate what I am good at, what interests me and what is good for me.

I continue on at King of Grace and am thankful every day that I found that church! I still continue my good Baptist habit of taking sermon notes. I also still believe I am the only one who does that! Thankfully, I don't do it to "look good", cuz the opposite would be true at my church. I do actually review my notes each week, so there!