Friday, November 27, 2009

A Slightly Skewed Thanksgiving?

Had a nice Thanksgiving?  Did you go around the table as a lot of families do to say what you've been thankful for this year?  We could all benefit from more gratefulness and awareness that all we have is because of God's mercy and love for us.  But something slightly skewed can come out of this as well.

I was looking through Christian videos about Thanksgiving and saw a common assumption, that being content with what we have is always good, while being dissatisfied is always wrong.  If that were true, there would be no Thanksgiving to begin with.  Imagine the pilgrims being satisfied with the persecution of their faith, with the inability to worship God freely.  Imagine the colonists being satisfied with the oppression of the British crown that only wanted to tax, extort and control them and even massacre them when they resisted. There's a time when being content is very, very wrong.

I am so thankful for this beautiful country where we live, and for all the abundant blessings that we have.  But the abundance came through sacrifice, through the shedding of blood, through freezing winters, ragged armies, and moments when hope was almost snuffed out, all for the cause of the freedom they believed in.  When you've fought, bled and sacrificed for what you know God has promised you, the blessings that follow are more precious than anything else.  They stand as a reminder of God's faithfulness, and in an amazing way they continue to multiply and bless everyone around you for years to come.

Now's our chance to sacrifice.  Is there anything you're willing to bleed for?  Campaign of Israel:

Sunday, November 15, 2009

Chasing the Master

We saw Nubs the Dog on the Leno Show, and my husband, being a dog lover was enthralled by his story.  It was an inspiring story of loyalty and perseverance, but I only really got it when I heard Dave preach about it on Wednesday night.  It hit me hard and painted a picture in my mind so vivid that I don't believe I'll ever forget it.

A wild dog surviving in the deserts of Iraq, fighting and scavenging with the other packs of ferocious dogs that inhabit his territory.  An Iraqi soldier decides to capture him to turn him into a fighting dog to gamble with and slices off his ears.  He's starved and sent into a ring of other snarling half-crazed dogs to fight for his life so that a few bored men can get a laugh and steal each other's money.  He ends up stabbed with a screw-driver and left for dead.  And he comes across a US Marine camp with the first friendly voices he has ever heard.

That in a nutshell was the life story of Nubs the dog - Nubs the name given to him by Maj. Brian Dennis who saw something good in this brute.  In time the marine befriends him, and when he sees the gaping wound on his side, administers first aid the best he can, and sees him survive the night.  But weeks later the soldiers receive orders to pack and travel 75 miles through the desert to set up a new camp.  They drive off in their Humvees and watch Nubs chasing their convoy as far as he can before he turns into a small speck on the desert landscape.  Two mornings later, who should appear at the marine Major's tent flap, but Nubs the dog.  He had traveled that entire distance in 18 degree weather to stay close to the one man who cared about his life.  He wasn't about to let distance or difficulty stop him.

Long story short, Major Dennis raised $5000 through emailing friends and was able to send Nubs home to sunny California, enjoying the beaches of San Diego and eating dog chow for the rest of his life.  Sweet story, but as I listened to Dave preach, I heard so much more.

Working in the US, one of the most common things to hear are people complain about God not being fast enough, not caring, not answering the way they think He ought to.  I can't count how many have come to God, to church, seen huge changes and then gave up on God and church when other obstacles came along, and those huge changes just faded away.  No one knows what faithfulness and trust is anymore.  The services are too long, the prayers don't sound just right, the music isn't my style, the building's too far away, no body pays attention to me, too many people pay attention to me, I just don't feel like believing any more.  Sickening but it's the reality of the American Christian today.

Nubs had no reason to trust any human being.  He had no reason to be faithful or loving to any creature at all.  He had been cut, bruised, wounded, abandoned and left for dead, yet he chose to love and sacrifice himself to find the one he believed in.  He chased after the master that he chose, and now is secure in a happy home.  How badly do we really want God?  How eager are we to chase after Him?  How willing are we to forget all the horrible things in our past and just keep our eyes glued to God?

More than ever before, I want to chase down and pursue my Master until the end of my days.  Who thought that a wild Iraqi dog could teach me how to honor and sacrifice to God?  But then again, wasn't it Jesus who called a woman of faith a little dog one day?

Tuesday, November 10, 2009

Adoption - When to Let Them Know

Ligia asked me a question a few weeks back about when to tell an adopted child the truth about their origins.  I know quite a few adoptive families, grew up among some, and know some now.  I've seen parents who have tried different methods of dealing with the subject, but the families that I saw with the happiest, most well-adjusted children were those that were completely honest from the beginning.

This is what I witnessed growing up as a missionary's daughter in Korea, where a number of other American missionaries had adopted either Korean or American babies.  From what I remember, they treated the fact that they were adopted as a wonderful, beautiful experience that made those children uniquely special.  My mother explained it to me so eloquently about how special a child is who has been specifically chosen by his or her adoptive parents because they were loved and wanted, yet many children who are born into families are not always loved.  Her explanation even made the little 5 year-old me feel jealous and wish I had been adopted too.  I was so disappointed that I wasn't!

Those parents who took orphans into their households, were proud to tell their little ones from the time they could understand, what a blessed day it was when they brought them home from the orphanage, and when they joined their family.  They never lied or pretended that they were their biological parents, and never once implied that there was anything wrong with being adopted, which of course there isn't!  They didn't raise them to feel pity or shame for their past, just to know the truth, and the most important truth was that they were just as loved and as precious as the rest of their biological children.

Hiding the truth and pretending only makes it worse when they do find out, because: 1. They will never fully trust that you are telling the truth about anything.  2.  They will feel that you think their past is something shameful which could lead to a lot of resentment and insecurity.  3.  They will see you as weak because you didn't have the courage to do what was right from the start.

If God asks us never to "bear false witness" in the 10 commandments, why should we do it to the children we have chosen to love?  

Monday, November 2, 2009

Washing their mouths out with soap

When I was little, the only bad words that I knew about were "dumb," "stupid," "shut-up," "darn" and "heck".  Hearing someone say any of these words were enough for me to gasp, and urgently whisper to my mother, "She said a bad word!"  Once when a boy in 4th grade thought he would educate me in the REAL bad words, and I laughed at the silly sounds he made.  I told him that my mom had taught me all the bad words there were and if there were other ones, she surely would have told me!

Thank goodness my mom left me in a world of innocence for as long as she could when it came to cursing, and until today I feel a bit guilty using any of those five originally "forbidden" words and rarely do, if at all.  But life today is different, even in Christian homes.  TV permits a lot of swearing and filthy language, even children's films boost their ratings to PG by adding a few expletives, and parents in general feel that keeping their kid's mouths clean is a losing battle, so let them say what they want.  Parents can't resist letting one slip every now and then, so why should they enforce something they can't even follow?

What's wrong with filthy language, and who says it's filthy in the first place?  The Bible says there should be no obscenity, foolish talk or coarse joking, (Eph 5:4) and that an immoral person is the same as an idolater, meaning they are worshipping what is evil.  That's pretty heavy stuff considering how common these words have become.  That means that if we allow ourselves, and our children to speak in this manner, we are opening them up to a very evil spiritual world.

Telling your kids not to say bad words just because they are bad or rude, is not enough.  Parents first have to understand how destructive evil speech can be to their entire home.  There is a spirit behind all we say and confess, and we have to be the guardians of that entryway.

I have a no-tolerance policy for my kids when it comes to profanity, and I know they will never hear me use it myself.  When they first heard the words on television as toddlers and repeated them, I strongly told them that they were unacceptable and they would be spanked (I know, call CPS...) if they ever repeated them again.  Of course they had to test the boundaries and did repeat them and got a swift and painful reminder that they were NEVER to say that!  It didn't take long before the whole issue was settled, and I never had a problem with them again.

I can just hear the complaints, "You're so mean!"  If you call aggressively protecting my family from a spirit of rebelliousness, hatred and curses as being mean, then I guess I am - mean against spiritual forces that would love to tear us apart.  There are many ways that evil can infiltrate our homes and lives, and being vigilant in this area, is just one way to block the harm it wants to do.

Curses are not just medieval superstition, but are making their way into families every day, by the choices we make to ignore God's Word.  We can so easily replace them with encouraging, positive words, but that's another blog post!