Sunday, November 3, 2013

Falling Forward: Lessons I Hope My Children Learn from the Vision Forum Sadness

Every Christian falls. But falling from ground level, I think we can all agree, is much less painful and dramatic than falling from a pedestal. Falling from ground level sometimes barely makes a sound. It doesn't crash, it doesn't boom, it doesn't reverberate through the community of believers, it doesn't usually require a letter of explanation and repentance. But falling from a height of relative fame, 'leadership' we would call it in the Church, that kind of fall is the kind that attracts attention.

This past week, believers were saddened to discover that the president of Vision Forum Ministries, Doug Phillips, has taken a fall. He did something very, very wrong. Phillips, in his own words, "engaged in a lengthy, inappropriate relationship with a woman. While we did not 'know' each other in a biblical sense, it was nevertheless inappropriately romantic and affectionate." And the sadness in these circles, the shock, the hand over your mouth in stunned silence, is palpable.

In my own home, my 13-year-old is recently returned from a conference on fatherhood from which he came back all fired up and ready to be a Man of God, a conference where Doug Phillips was one of the keynotes. I don't know how to break this news to him, or even if we should.

Phillips did something very, very wrong. But, oh, he did something very, very right. And that, my children, is where I want you to place your focus as we all navigate through this tragedy.

It was just a few blogposts back where I was examining my own heart, wondering how I would react if one of my children came to me and confessed a same-sex attraction. And I was hoping that I would have such a grasp of the gospel that I would react with less shock and more Truth, that I would acknowledge the power of sin, the strength of the flesh, the saving grace of the blood of the Lamb to redeem and restore.

I admit that upon hearing the news, my first reaction was shock. But I submit to you that this was the wrong reaction. Are leaders immune to sin? Do teachers not also struggle with what they teach? Is there a level of Zen-like imperviousness to sin this side of Heaven? No. No. And no.

My children, do not be shocked when someone you admire sins. Rather, remind yourself that there is none righteous, that all fall short of the glory of God. Keep moral failure in perspective. Moral failure does not prove the Gospel wrong; it proves the Gospel right.

And learn a lesson from Mr. Phillips...
because he did do some things right.

"I have confessed my sin to my wife and family, my local church, and the Board of Vision Forum Ministries."
This was an affair of the heart. He did not have sexual relations with her. In other words, no one need ever have known. He could have rationalized that he could handle it himself. Or that it wasn't really adultery because there wasn't really sex. But he didn't. He confessed.

Lesson One: Be one with your spouse. Be transparent. Confess your faults and your weaknesses. A chord of three strands is not easily broken, and a marriage with the Holy Spirit as a third strand will withstand some fire. Mr. Phillips was right to confess to his wife and family.

Lesson Two: Be inspectable with your shepherds. There is a heretical definition of the Church floating around out there: that wherever two or more believers are gathered, that is Church. Stuff and nonsense. To be a church, there must be elders, there must be the preaching of God's Word, and there must be discipline. There must be discipline for just such times as these...
that when a sheep goes astray, the shepherds will go after him, will bring him back to the fold, will nurse him back to health, will break his legs if he tries to wander too far. Church discipline is not a 'bad dog' scolding. Rather, it is a nurturing, and its final goal is restoration. In confessing to his local church, Mr. Phillips was inspectable. He did what a good sheep does. And there is much hope for healing and restoration because of it.

My children, do not fall prey to the heresy that says you don't need a local body, that you don't need to be under authority, that having dinner with friends is church. IT.IS.NOT. Submit yourself to be inspectable and check yourself if you leave a local body because it stopped tickling your fancy. "Stop dating the Church," as author Josh Harris admonishes. Stay put. It's for your good. And staying put will be for the good of Mr. Phillips and his family. Just wait and see.

"There are no words to describe the magnitude of shame that I feel, or grief from the injury I caused my beloved bride and children..."
While Dad was teaching from Proverbs last week, he looked up 'humility' in the dictionary. Did you know that according to Webster's 1828 Dictionary,  'humility' is a derivative of humus? Humus is Latin for 'earth.' I found that enlightening. True humility, I think then, is a picture of us on the ground, acknowledging before God and others, our low state. True humility is signified by shame and grief over our own sin.

Lesson Three: Grieve over your sin. Reflect that there is really no such thing as 'private sin' and that my sin infects the whole Body, especially those closest to me. Don't be defensive regarding your sin; be repentant. Grief, repentance, humility--this is the recipe for restoration.

"I need to lead a quiet life focusing on my family and serving as a foot-soldier."
Yes. There are times to lead the charge for godly causes...and there are times to circle the wagons to protect those entrusted to our care--most especially if we have inflicted damage. There is nothing more disconcerting than watching a fallen leader who refuses to give up his position. But we are not called to lives of prestige; we are called to lives of faithfulness. And sometimes faithfulness is just mundane and daily and ordinary and one foot in front of the other.

Lesson Four: My children, when our ambition places us in a proud or precarious place, we would do well to remind ourselves that it should be our ambition to lead a quiet life. Our ambition. Our aim. Our goal. A quiet, ordinary kind of life is most often the way God can use us. And a quiet, ordinary kind of life is the best restorative for a sheep who has taken a fall. A quiet, ordinary kind of life is not a punishment; it is a therapy, one prescribed by our Great Physician. We would do well to follow doctor's orders.

This sadness over at Vision Forum is actually an excellent picture of the Gospel. It's what the Gospel looks like when it is pressed into the fabric of our daily lives. Sin is part of our daily lives. Much of it is ordinary. And much of the time, I don't think we're even aware of just how far short we fall from God's standard.  But when we're made aware of sin in our lives, let's remember with forgiven slave trader John Newton that, "I am a great sinner; Christ is a great Savior." Let's run to the Cross and take refuge there. Let's remind ourselves that this is what the Cross, what the Gospel, is all about--restoring us because we fail and we fall. And we all need that restoration.

Mr. Phillips fell. That was wrong.
But he fell on Jesus. And that was right.
Daily, daily, daily we need the Cross and the Blood.
Never be surprised by that.
Fall forward.

Teach my song to rise to You,
When temptation comes my way.
When I cannot stand, I'll fall on You.
Jesus, You're my hope and stay.
I need You, Oh I need You.
Every hour I need You.
My one defense, my righteousness,
Oh God, how I need You. *

*(Lord, I Need You, 2011, by Christy Nockels, Daniel Carson, Jesse Reeves, Kristian Stanfill, Matt Maher)

Tuesday, October 22, 2013

The View from 99

About a week ago, my darling husband was lamenting the impact pregnancy has on fathers. He summed it up with "Fifteen months. That's positively scandalous!" I stared in disbelief. Surely he jests...

First, the school marm in me wanted to hand him a pencil and paper. "Using two unit multipliers, convert eleven pregnancies to days." But no. He wants to talk in months; fine, we'll talk in months.


Eleven pregnancies converts to ninety-nine months of my life being pregnant. That's eight years and three months. Your point?  His shocked silence told me I had hit home. "Well, when you put it that way..." And we both had a good laugh.

So, here I am, halfway through my ninety-ninth month of pregnancy. According to the calendar, I'm inside of two weeks of my due date. Of course, we all know that babies are not calendar watchers. So, technically, I could be at zero hour...or I could be looking at four more weeks.

My clothes are getting tight. There is no such thing as the little black maternity dress. I have a little black maternity dress--which looks more like a little black tent. And my large black maternity dress could sleep eight comfortably.

I'm sleeping on the couch now because, unlike my bed, it rises up to meet me. But that doesn't mean I'm comfortable. And getting off the couch in the morning is visually reminiscent of a hippo lumbering out of the water. I'm also longing for tummy in getting to sleep again on my tummy. But as all mothers know, that will be a glory in which I can revel for about forty-eight hours, at which point, my mammalian milk makers will force me to my side. Again. Zheesh.

We still don't have a name, although we're getting closer. And don't think we haven't considered reusing some names. Big Luigi, Little Luigi. Why not? At this point, I get so muddled when talking to my kids anyway that the new rule is that they have to answer if I'm looking at them...even if I am referring to them as Batman.

After various injuries from slips-n-slides, grocery shopping, and base jumping (No. I'm just kidding about the grocery shopping.), which made me sedentary for two long months, I'm finally walking again. Of course, this is the final stretch, where I can't seem to make it to the end of the street without contracting. Tough tooties. I'm walking. And that's that.

I'm tipping the scale this time at ... like I would tell you ... but suffice it to say I'm seeing numbers in my 99th month that I've NEVER seen on a scale before. Svelte is something I was in college. Squishy is a better descriptive now.

Then, of course, there's that little thing called 'childbirth' hanging over my head.
Some of my friends think childbirth doesn't hurt.
I think they're on crack.
I have one friend--who shall remain anonymous--who claims she's had a hangnail hurt worse.
That must have been some freakin' hangnail.

In all seriousness, though...

In the time I've had this one pregnancy, five of my friends have suffered miscarriages. Three of them were in their forties, as am I. One was a due-date buddy and dear friend whose miscarriage was particularly painful. And the fact that I am the last man standing is not lost on me.

Additionally, as I look to the end of this adventure, I am aware that there are things I do not know. We didn't have a sonogram this time around. I don't know why; we just didn't get around to it. I don't know whether this child is a boy or a girl. I don't know where the placenta is. I don't know if this child is healthy or not.  And I'm strangely peaceful about all those little details.

Brett was preaching this past Sunday the opening sermon on Genesis. And he said the most amazing thing. When we read Genesis as an apologetic for our beginning, whether we consider it philosophy or science, we miss the point. Genesis was written to comfort a people immersed in pagan cultures that worshipped creation. Genesis was written to introduce an all-powerful, all-knowing. all-wise Creator who created by the word of His mouth. The creation account was never about creation; it was about the Creator.

On Sunday afternoon, I was talking to my grandma, a perky 91-year-old. She asked how I was doing, and I said, "Grandma, it was a weird week. I washed baby clothes, and I'm ordering college graduation announcements. Isn't that crazy?" And you know what she said?

"And God knew that before the foundation of the world. This has always been His plan for you--from the beginning." I could practically feel her reaching through the phone and patting me reassuringly on the arm. Month 99...and I had never seen that before. But Grandma saw it just as plain as day.

This has never been about me. Not one of these pregnancies, not one of these ninety-nine months. They've all been part of the Creator's plan from before the foundations of the earth. This has never been about the biology of pregnancy and weight gain and sleep and baby development and big clothes that are too small. This has never been about me, the creation; this has always been about the Creator and His story of time and space and redemption and glory.

Ninety-nine months.
Just a pinprick in the story of Eternity.
He is the Author of all of it.
And it's a really, really good Story.

Sunday, October 20, 2013

Law and Liberty

The United States is not a Christian nation.
The United States has never been a Christian nation.
The United States will never be a Christian nation.

Now. Go write that on the tablet of your red-blooded, American, evangelical heart one hundred times.

The United States is not a city on a matter what Ronny Ray-gun said.
I like Reagan and all. I really do, even if he was conveniently daft during one interfering episode with some Iranians and some Contras, even if his henchman, Ollie North, should have gone to jail instead of prime time. I liked his 'Come and Take It' charm during the Cold War. But he did much harm taking scripture out of context,
way out of context.

The City on a Hill is the Church. It is not the USA; it has never been the USA.
And the Church is the only recipient of His "Favored Nation" status.
Just sayin'.

When Ronald Reagan quoted City on a Hill, he was referencing Governor John Winthrop. Winthrop was, perhaps, a mite closer to better exegesis, as he was speaking of a his little Christian community united together, not by a civil government, but by the Holy Spirit. But by the time we got around to our founding national documents, any claim to this being a group of people in covenant with the Creator Redeemer is simply untenable.

And by the time Reagan gave that speech (circa 1974), well, it's just ludicrous.

Jesus is King of the United States?
Well, yes and no.
Yes, in a "ready or not, here I come" kind of way.
No, in an "all the lovely ladies wore flowers in their hair" kind of way.
He's King because He will be, not because we asked Him to be.
He's King because there's not one square inch of His creation, as Kuyper reminds us, over which He does not say, "Mine!"
But not because we rolled out the red carpet for him.

Back to City on a Hill.
Who said that?
When did He say that?
In His sermon on the mount.
To whom did He say that?
To His subjects.
To review...
A city on a hill refers to...the...Church.
And the Church is the only Christian nation because it is the only nation in covenant with God.

Which brings me to my latest disappointing read, Law and Liberty by RJ Rushdoony.  I have heard great things about Rushdoony, but I've never read anything by him.  Before I say anything else, let me say this: I am a manager of my home. I am not a scholar; I am not a theologian; I am not a pastor or author.  So I admit I feel a bit sheepish taking Rushdoony on.
And yet...
I am an American concerned about good government. I am a Christian concerned about a Biblical division of governmental jurisdictions like self, family, church, and state. And I am disappointed.

In some ways, Rushdoony seems to be spot.on. I read what he says about self-government and family, and I think he's got a strong Biblical case. But I am a little dismayed about how he tackles civil government.

For one thing, he is a fan of legal positivism.
Legal positivism. That's statism, kids. Statism is bad.
To boil it down quickly and, admittedly, to oversimplify the issue, legal positivism is the view that liberty comes from the government, as opposed to natural law which says that liberty comes from the Creator, and government must justify any infringement on liberty.
Legal positivism is what liberals do when they declare that clean water or health care is a 'right'...or say that 'hate speech' is illegal. It's also what conservatives do when they support prayer in schools or ban marijuana.

Whereas believers in a truly limited government recognize that a government oversteps its bounds when it goes beyond the bounds of protecting life, liberty, and property, believers in legal positivism insist that it is the government's job to protect you.

Rushdoony, and many like him, fail to address the difficulty of governing a pluralistic society in which most do not walk with the mind of the Spirit. And it leaves one thinking that they would look at their non-Christian neighbors, who might feel a tad bit restricted by their theonomic approach to government and shrug, "Dem's da berries." I find that both provocative and fruitless.

What should we say to our fellow Americans who are outside the faith? That we can all agree on life, liberty, and property...but we're prepared to shove the rest down their unbelieving throats? And that will get us...where?

I begin to suspect that my disagreement with Mr. Rushdoony is largely eschatological. I do think he believes in limited government; I do. But he errs far too frequently on the 'civil government must align itself with God's law' approach.  I think that view more likely reflects the jurisdiction of Church government, not civil government. And the result is a civil government far larger and less limited than it ever should be.

Church government is for the citizens of Heaven.
Civil government is for all.

I just had to get this rant off my chest.
I feel better now.

Tuesday, October 15, 2013

Of Catches, Kibbutzes, and Covenants

Well, you're there. Your feet are on the ground in the Holy Land. And I'd just like to review a few things with you before you really get started.

Let's talk about men. You know...those swarthy, handsome types who live right where you are...

If his name is Mohammad Al-Anything, run.
If you're watching a soccer match with him, and his idea of trash talking is, "Death to the Infidel!" run.
If he thinks you look totes presh in a burqa, run.

But to be fair...
If he wails at walls, run.
If he wears a box on his head, run.
If he thinks he's going to heaven because Abraham is Great Grandpa, oy vey, run!

And while we're on this subject...
We'd really rather you don't come home having married a dispensational Zionist named Goldblatt. Actually, we'd really rather you don't marry a dispensational Zionist named Smith or Jones, either.  Just stay away from romantic flings with dispensational Zionists, mmmkay?

You are not to come back wearing a kerchief and telling me you're going to move to a kibbutz.
You want exotic?
Try walking on the water.
Or stick an umbrella in your matzoh ball soup.

But seriously...

You're in a spiritually volatile place.
Remember what Dad's been talking about here: wisdom crying aloud in the market.
When you get to a real outdoor market, and your senses are barraged with all kinds of sights and sounds and enticements, remember how important it is to hold on to your passport and your good sense and to think clearly.

And as you begin to move into the international marketplace of ideas, those same principles hold true.
Listen for Wisdom's voice and follow her.
Hold on to your heavenly passport. It reminds you where your true citizenship lies.
Hold on to the good sense of your Covenant and think clearly.
And the secret to that?
How ironic that, as you begin your adventure in the Land of the Sh'ma, it's all right there.
Love the Lord your God with ALL your heart,
ALL your soul,
ALL your might.

Apply sound, not sloppy, theology.
The only Favored Nation status God has ever granted is to His Church,
not to some tiny geopolitical nation off the Mediterranean,
not to some 21st Century dudes who have Abraham's nose or Sarah's curly hair.

You're in a politically volatile place.
Love the Palestinians, as well as the Jews.
Remember that you have more fellowship with a Palestinian believer than you do with a Jewish non-believer.
Remember that all men, regardless of ethnic origin, must come to the Father through the Son.

Don't get involved in the land grab or take up anyone's offense. Don't seize that dog by the ears.
And remember that there are two sides to every story. One man seems right...until another comes along and states his case.

Remember that you are a Covenant woman.
Be prepared to give an answer for the hope that is in you,
to the Jew, the Palestinian, and the alien.

And have fun.
Love, Mom

Hear, O Israel, the Lord our God, the Lord is one. You shall love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your might. And these words that I command you today shall be on your heart. Deuteronomy 6:4-6

Wednesday, September 18, 2013

Lex Ridiculum


Here I am trying to focus on the impending arrival of our next little arrow. I'm going through life, minding my own business, re-reading books on how to lead little ones to God. I'm trying to ignore posts on my newsfeed from Judge Napolitano and Ben Swann, which constantly remind me that my liberty is being quickly eroded. I'm trying to ignore Syria and NSA and I-told-you-so moments, like:
If Ron Paul was president, he'd be sending up a holy-Patrick Henry-hue-and-cry over NSA.
If Ron Paul was president, he would not for a moment entertain the option of sending our soldiers to seize the dog that is Syria by the ears.
But, no. Most of us conservatives threw our vote away on the mouse who is Mitt...
the man who doesn't do I put this delicately...the testicular fortitude of Celine Dion...
leaving us the mouse who is Barack.

I hate to say I told you so.

But doggone it.
I attended a court proceeding last night. And now I've got that ever so familiar political burr under my saddle. And the offending topic?
My friend, Karen, could probably hear my eyes rolling as the offense was read because she turned around and smirked at me. ( You may not remember. But Karen remembers last year's battle with city hall over daytime curfew--a battle in which my friends and I fought the first skirmish here and the final skirmish here.)

I sat there last night and listened to the evidence presented, and I must say...
Really, people.
We're going to get our knickers in a knot over when a sixteen year old is sitting at a picnic table in a park?!?!
This is truly stupendous.
No wonder our court dockets are overloaded.
No wonder our justice system is ineffective.

Can you imagine Sam Adams taking this sitting down?
Excuse me, Mr. Adams, I can see the Boston chief of police saying, but we need a nighttime curfew to keep your children safe. Who knows what evil lurks in the hearts of men at 3 a.m? 
As if evil doesn't lurk in the hearts of men at 3 p.m.
A righteously indignant Mr. Adams volleys back:
And why, Mr. Police Chief, is it your duty to look over my shoulder as father and head of my home and second guess the freedoms which I choose to grant or deny my own children? Pray, Sir, do you intend to also lend your approbation to how I distribute their allowance? or manage their chores? or how I don my breeches each morning?

For this is as preposterous.
Consider for a moment the infringement on liberty that is 'curfew.'
Consider that while curfew might be a sound house rule, it is never acceptable civil law.
Consider just how noxious is the notion that a government of a free society would limit the movement of its citizenry.
Consider that the safety of the children is not left to the jurisdiction of the State but to that of the Family.
Consider that for Law to be King, Law must not be ridiculous.
And consider that this utterly ridiculous idea that 'government-enforced curfew is good law' will have some unintended consequences...

It can give a 16 year old youngster a criminal record that bars him from getting into the college of his choice.
Yes. Really.
Being out in public after midnight.
Do we really intend to create a populace where hardened criminals started out as...curfew breakers?

What are you in for? says convicted rapist.
Being in the park at 3 a.m.

We all need to rethink this one.
Chill out; eat some fruit.
Go listen to some Alice's Restaurant. (Arlo Guthrie got this one right--and it might be the most valuable 30 minutes you spend today.)
Get over our love affair with the Nanny State.

But we won't.

Please, people. I'm trying to grow a baby here.
Could someone else be Patrick Henry or Sam Adams or the Obnoxious Big Mouth in this city for a while?

What's that noise?
Oh, just us freedom-loving Americans.
Baa, baa, baa.

Tuesday, September 10, 2013

From the Hill: A Quick Thank You

This is not a hill I want to die on.
This is not the issue I want to define Who I am or What I stand for.

Nevertheless, every once in a while, I find I myself on this hill again. It's never been one I go looking to take; it gets brought to me.
An endless series of mini-lectures which blames women for problems in the church, problems in culture, problems in marriage. A view so convinced of the evil of the female gender specifically that whether a person really believes the Bible is judged by his views of women's issues. (I guess I always thought the litmus test would be whether he believes the gospel...)
Shoot, if I gave the opportunity, (which I do not, as I try to get out of, rather than into these conversations) I'd probably even hear about how Eve was the problem in Eden.
As if Jesus was called the Second Eve rather than the Second Adam.
But I don't want to go there.
Adam is not my target.
Men are not my target.
I don't want to be a female chauvinist any more than I want to men to be misogynists.

No, I do not want to die on this hill.
Problem is, I do die on this hill.
From friendly fire.
For weeks, I'm a wreck, detoxing and praying and forgiving and fighting the imbalance that would pull me into the other ditch.
As if I don't equally despise that ditch.

When a conference on fatherhood came to our region on the heels of yet another round of friendly fire, I admit I was a little jittery. This looked a lot like that hill again. But I know Brett. I know his heart. I know his grounding in the scripture. I know he's not going to get sucked in by troglodytes posing as patriarchs.  Bottom line: I trust him.

When he got home three days later, it was clear that he had been challenged and affirmed and was re-committed to leading his family. "You would have liked this," he said. I waited. I didn't want to contradict, but I was doubtful.

And here's what he heard:
He heard one keynote say that men must learn to live with their wives in an understanding way.
(And this washes over me like a cooling rain. So long, Created to Be His Doormat.)
He heard one panelist say of raising daughters, "They need to be smart; they need to be educated. They could be raising our next president."
(You mean...not just a uterus with a broom? Again. A cup of cold water.)

Brett's still talking about what he heard.
So is our thirteen year old, whom he took along.
Stories that deeply impacted them.
Teaching that challenged them.

Maybe someday I won't ever have to die on that hill again.
Maybe someday the fire will stop, and this war on womanhood, this war I did not ask for.
Maybe someday I will never have to run for cover or detox,
Or write about this or talk about this again.
Or maybe that's Heaven.

Even so...

To you men who embrace manhood without declaring war on womanhood,
To you men who know that we're with you, not against you,
That we're your partners in the chief end of man, not your enemies,
That we want you to be successful in your call to manhood, that we're cheering for you...

To you men who recognize that we are pursuing godly womanhood, too,
That we, by God's grace, have the capacity to be submissive rather than subversive...

To you men, whose manhood is built on scripture, rather than on our subjugation,
On dominion, rather than domination,
Who are trying to fix what broke in Eden...

To you men who have the courage to teach what is right and righteous about gender roles...
To you men who are so solid that my husband was able to affirm what you said--rather than correct it--to my 13 year old...

From one woman who is weary of being a casualty on this hill,
You are restoring my faith.
Thank you.

Tuesday, September 3, 2013


I think I'm lactose intolerant. I haven't enjoyed milk since I was about two.
And salad bars and baby food aisles send me scurrying in search of animal flesh.
I'm a carnivore. I like meat. No, I love meat, preferably meat that used to say, "Moo," grilled over hot coals, with a pink center. A little seasoning, a fork and a knife, and I'm good.

Oh. Did you think I meant food?
(Well, actually, I am a carnivore at the dinner table, but...)

I mean church. Give me a meaty sermon, served up hot, convicting, Biblical, challenging. Give me something to chew on all week. Give me something so dense I'll need some toothpicks to go with it.
Keep your milk.
Keep your best life now.
I'll take my best life later, thanks.

A few years back, I was having a conversation with a visitor to our church. He was trying to be diplomatic, I think. "We prefer a more...emotional...relationship with the Lord."
Translation: The worship here doesn't get me revved up enough. Too many hymns; too many words.

I was stunned, not at the position, because I already knew it to be true about a large segment of the Church population. No, I was stunned at the willing admission, freely given as if it was acceptable, justifiable.

It makes me sad because I think it points to a cheapened view of the Gospel.
I don't understand what about a perfect God-man dying in my place...
or loving me while I was still a rebel...
or extending the unmerited favor of God...
or finishing the work He began in me...
or promising me a place in Heaven...
doesn't make us weep with grateful, humbled emotion.

What? In my place condemned He stood doesn't do it for ya?

It's like a large portion of the Body is saying,
Yeah, yeah, yeah. The cross. The resurrection. 
Justification. Sanctification. I get it, already. 
That substitutionary atonement stuff--that's so first century.
Can we get on to the more interesting "Holy Spirit" stuff?
Can we get to the power and gifts?
Can we focus on how much God just loooooooooves me?

Are you kidding me???

Author/theologian DA Carson, in his book, The Cross and Christian Ministry, talks about his infant son, who was a projectile vomiter:
At least he had an excuse. He was young, and his digestive system was obviously not as well developed as his sister's at the same age. Best of all, he quickly outgrew this stage. But there are Christians who are international-class projectile vomiters, spiritually speaking, after years and years of life. They simply cannot digest what Paul calls solid food. You must give them milk, for they are not ready for anything more. And if you try to give them anything other than milk, they upchuck and make a mess of everyone and everything around them. At some point, the number of years they have been Christians leads you to expect something like mature behavior from them, but they prove disappointing. They are infants still and display their wretched immaturity even in the way they complain if you give them more than milk. Not for them solid knowledge of scripture; not for them mature theological reflection; not for them growing and perceptive Christian thought. They want nothing more than another round of choruses and a 'simple message'--something that won't challenge them to think, to examine their lives, to make choices, and to grow in their knowledge and adoration of the living God." (p.72)

I am thankful for the Carnivorous Church.

I'm thankful for elders (like mine) who have such a high view of their men and good theology that they've taken them through a course in hermeneutics so that they can read the Bible better to themselves and to their families.
The making of carnivorous men.

I'm thankful for a such a high view of children that even the very young cut their teeth on weekly, meaty sermons with the adults-- a view which expects that even these little ones can take something away from it.
The making of carnivorous kids.

I'm thankful for a high view of women that expects them to display submissive feminine beauty with massive steel in their backs and theology in their brains. (Piper)
And we get the hermeneutics course, too! No knitting circle, this.
The making of carnivorous ladies.

I'm thankful for a such a high view of scripture and careful, expository preaching that is so concerned for God's glory and so centered on the Gospel that it might take three and a half years to cover the book of Matthew. And every sermon points back to the Cross.
The making of carnivorous congregations.

Meanwhile, back at the Happy Clappy Ranch...
we have Buffoons-For-Jesus (though I seriously doubt Jesus lays any claim to these Wide Path 'preachers') standing on the dais, proclaiming how much God is for you--with nary a mention of sin, repentance, or the price of redemption.

Simpering, spineless, large-smiled, small-brained, theology disdaining, scripture-altering, gospel-shrugging, crowd-pleasing, ear-tickling 'shepherds'...
who lead the sheep to thistly grass and standing water and cliffs' edges--and death.

Is there a place for these ministries?
Oh yes.
There is a place for them.

But I digress.

Al Mohler, in an appropriately scathing indictment of modern preaching, says, "The anemia of evangelical directly attributable to the absence of genuine expository preaching. Such preaching would confront the congregation with nothing less than the living and active Word of God."

Why is the Church impotent? Because we're all feeding like a bunch of silly vegans...
We're suffering from a severe protein shortage.
We're gaunt.
We're anemic.
We're losing muscle.

We can't even handle our Bibles. How are we supposed to handle a world at enmity with God?

And then we start hearing this trendy observation...which needs some discernment:
"I just wanna love God and love people."
I admit it; this makes me cringe.
Say this to me, and I'm staring at you through suspicious, squinting eyes trying to figure out...
Are you saying this because you're milk-fed or meat-fed?

If you're meat-fed, what you mean is,
If all of the law and prophets are summed up in these two commands, then I need to know the law and the prophets so I know what love looks like. I'm on the hook here. I better be feeding on and hearing preaching on the whole counsel of scripture.
If you're milk-fed, what you mean is,
Shrug. I'm off the hook. I don't need to know the law or the prophets...or pretty much anything else. All I need is a happy Sunday service with happy songs and a happy message and, um, happy people being, well, happy. And loving people means that, um, I'm nice to 'em.

So you'll have to excuse me if when you say to me, "I just wanna love God and love people,"  you are then subjected to a barrage of questions posed by moi. My own kids have gotten the interview.
I'm just trying to figure out your diet.

I dearly hope my home is a place where our children are weaned from milk to meat as soon as possible.
I dearly hope we are cultivating in our children an appetite and a craving for meat, not milk.
I dearly hope that in my home, we're raising Carnivore Christians.

How firm a foundation, ye saints of the Lord,
Is laid for your faith in His excellent Word.
What more can He say than to you He hath said,
To you, who for refuge, to Jesus hath fled?

Monday, August 26, 2013

Winging It--My Homeschool Plan for the Year

Today was the first day of school. And I totally winged it. (Wang it? Wung it? What is the past tense of the verb 'to wing' anyway?) My pregnant brain is seriously planning-challenged and distracted these days.

I've had school years when my goal was to teach them something in particular or to keep it cozy. This year? This year, I really just want to finish. I'm not even tacking on 'finish strong.' I really do just mean 'finish.'

We've got a few major things going on this year.
Our oldest will graduate in December with his B.S. in Air Traffic Control Management.
Our fourth will graduate in the spring from high school.
Just the prospect of having to do another graduation is daunting.
Dates, diplomas, invitations, speeches, locations....and on it goes...
I've got one seventh grader trying to finish Boy Scouts strong before we leave in December--you know, right before the Boy Scouts become the new Girl Scouts.
Throw in Teen Court, team policy debate, speech, ultimate frisbee and science club.

And we're swamped.

Did I mention that this little one, who still has no name, will arrive sometime in the fall? Not that that's an incredible impediment to homeschooling. It's not the Year of the Newborn that's challenging. It's the Year of the Climbing Eighteen Month Old Who Has Learned to Test Boundaries and Eat Pennies that is the challenge. And that, thankfully, will not come until later.

So. Here we are.
My books have come in. And up until last night, as in night before First Day of School, I had not distributed them to their permanent homes on each child's desk. But I did manage--somewhere in between all of us grieving over losing the two college guys this weekend and settling a rather emotional roommate squabble--to have the 'this is what's expected of you this year' conversation with each kid.

I've got a senior and a freshman on the docket, in addition to seventh, fifth, third, and first grader...
And an energetic four year old caboose who chooses to root through our 8,000 pieces of lego while I'm trying to do read-aloud.

We'll be doing the usual three r's. That's a given.
But the senior will be our first to complete the third year of World Views of the Western World in which she takes a critical look at the 20th and 21st centuries and reads such happy gems as The Plague and Walden Two. Can't wait. Nothing says cozy like Camus. The freshman will be embarking on her first world view voyage with Starting Points. And the rest will be starting our study of modern history in Sarajevo with Archduke Ferdinand.

The real gem this year, I think, will be The Art of Poetry by Christine Perrin. If you truly have a sick sense of humor, you'll put this somewhere obvious-but-not-so-obvious and just wait...At some point, each child will come to you in a panting sort of panic and will ask, as nonchalantly as possible, who is doing a poetry study this year. And you get to be Mom of the Year when you answer, "Not you." Muahahaha.

No, this is a study for high school. And I think it's going to be good, since I'm only slightly better at poetry than at art, and that's only because it is a linguistic art form.
Cubism I don't get.
(though, if you must watch a nude descending a staircase, cubism is the way to go. But I digress...)
Linguistics I get.
I'm even toying with the idea, in all my evil genius-ness, of ending with a Poetry Slam.

Yes, my rationalist bent gets seriously out of joint with all this romanticism. It's not that I don't enjoy beauty.
It's just that it has to be on my to-do list.

As in...
Stop and smell the flowers.

But what's truly romantic is the sounds and sights of books...
and kids curled up in chairs reading them...
and the coos of a newborn somewhere in the not-too-distant future.

Even winging it, it's going to be a good year.

Saturday, August 24, 2013

Twisting Eden

I wish for dominion
without domination.

I wish for earth care
without environmentalism.

I wish we created
without corrupting.

I wish for submission
without manipulation.

I wish for headship
without superiority.

I wish for fruitfulness
without exasperation.

I wish for equality
without egalitarianism.

I wish for relating
without recoiling.

I wish for the Tree of life
without the knowledge of evil.

I wish for the respite of nighttime
without fear in the dark.

I wish for work
without murmuring.

I wish for Imago Dei
without the imprint of sin.

I wish we were good
without being god.

I wish...


Tuesday, August 20, 2013


I was born in a house in a town just like your own.
I was raised to believe in the power of the Unknown.

When Alex took a college class last fall called Family Dynamics, none of us had any idea that it would impact our family. But it did. Late one night, Brett and I, as well as her two brothers who were also away at school, got an email as part of her homework, in which she had to identify a family weakness that could be addressed. It was the good kind of confrontation that simply confirmed what we all knew to be true about us. True...and bad.

When the answers and the Truth take different sides,
Will you still find me, will you still lead me through smoke?

That launched a series of family discussions in which God, in His grace, revealed to us a toxic part of our family culture that was having negative impact on our family. It was painful to walk through, and we had to have hard discussions with our kids, in which we reviewed the past, confessed sin, and asked forgiveness. But the pain was worth the peace that followed.

Peace I leave with you; my peace I give to you. Not as the world gives do I give to you. (John 14:27)

We know that the world preaches a peace that does not ruffle feathers, does not stir the pot, does not make anyone feel badly about their beliefs. The peace the world teaches is tolerance and coexistence. And, in the end, this peace leads to eternal destruction.

But the peace of God is far more radical than that. Do not think that I have come to bring peace to the earth. I have not come to bring peace, but a sword. (Matthew 10:34). The peace of God is aggressive. It is subversive to the world's agenda. It's an underground resistance movement.

Peacekeepers avoid the problem, not wanting to make waves. Live and let live. It's the kind of peace the world preaches.
Peacemakers head towards the problem, not bothered about making waves. It's the kind of peace Jesus preaches.
Peacekeepers keep their mouths shut, go quietly, and avoid conflict.
Peacemakers take ground for the cause of Christ.

We are not called to be peacekeepers; we are called to be peacemakers. 

That goes for all of us who name the name of Jesus. But, specifically here, I'm thinking parents. I've been heavy-hearted by all the stuff going on over at Homeschoolers Anonymous. These wounded rebels were raised by neither peacekeepers nor peacemakers. They were raised by warmongers...strong-willed parents who took a my-way-or-the-highway approach to parenting. And what we see over at HA is the bombed out, barren, gospel-deprived wasteland of a pointless war. They weren't parenting to the glory of God; they were parenting to the glory of Dad and Mom.

For shame.

As my three oldest children approached adulthood, I began to see a trend.
They all had to grapple with how they were raised...
because even the best-intentioned parent can help them see through the glass only dimly.
It takes the work of the Holy Spirit to bring the kind of clarity that helps them own their own pursuit of Truth.
It takes the work of the Holy Spirit to help them see through the gaps we leave or the mistakes we make or the sins we commit when we are raising our children.
It takes the work of the Holy Spirit to lead them through smoke.


They might arrive at adulthood having to navigate smoke as a result of our warmongering...
or they might arrive at adulthood having to navigate smoke as a result of our well-intentioned humanity.
But either way, there's still smoke.
Smoke is a fact of life.

Regarding the smoke on the road ahead of them, the Holy Spirit will take them the rest of the way.
But regarding the smoke of their past, we have a responsibility to lead them through. If we know we've left smoke in the wake of our parenting, we must--we must--become peacemakers with our children.

Who do you believe when you can't get through,
When everything you believe seems so untrue,
When I'm lost in a place that I thought I knew,
Give me some way that I might find You--through smoke.*

Give me some way that I might find You...
through smoke.

When it comes to our kids, that's the first job of our peacemaking: clearing any smoke that we left as a result of our own sin so they can see the Lord more clearly.
When we screw up, we can't deflect with a 'well, we did the best we could' shrug of the shoulders. Ouch. That might look like humility. But it's really an 'I'm not apologizing' arrogance. And you can be sure you'll hear their heart slam shut as a result.
It's a horrible, sick-to-your-stomach feeling to find you've done your children wrong, but peacemaking heads towards the problem, repents, and sees the result called Reconciliation.

The other part of peacemaking is going after their sin.
That's risky because it can so easily provoke defensiveness in the confronted party.
I admit it; I really dislike this part of peacemaking, and nothing makes me want to hide behind peacekeeping like the prospect of some kind of scene. I don't like emotion; I don't like tears; I don't like drama; I don't like my kids being mad at me. I admit I'd much rather avoid all of that and go quietly.
But choosing to be peacekeepers with our kids' sin is the same thing as choosing their destruction.

No, thanks.

peacemaking, in order to not be warmongering, has to be rooted in grace. The goal of peacemaking has to be the glory of God. Just look at the beatitudes. If I don't start by being poor in spirit, (that is, recognizing that I am spiritually impoverished and have nothing to offer God to make me right with Him, that any right standing I have with God is all a result of God's grace), if I don't grasp that, I will never succeed at peacemaking.

No one over at Homeschoolers Anonymous is beyond the grace of God:
not the rebel kids,
not the legalistic parents,
not the absentee elders.

But I'd rather not have to take the HA path to grace. And I'd rather not have my kids have to take the HA path to grace.

I'd rather be a peacemaker now.

Blessed are the peacemakers, for they shall be called sons of God. Matthew 5:9

*Through Smoke, Bear Rinehart and Bo Rinehart, 2009.

Saturday, August 17, 2013

A Series of Unfortunate Events

(Note: While I enjoy a good debate, I do not enjoy the prospect of offending. Please take this in the spirit it is offered: an appeal to avoid the cliffs off of which other parents before us have fallen. Thank you. Noel)

I'm not likely to forget her for a long time.
Doe-eyed little beauty.
Bright smile.
Gentle spirit.
She and my 8 year old had delightfully struck up a friendship, despite some obvious outward differences. My daughter introduced her to me with a grin, and then they skipped merrily off to play.

But my eyes blazed, indignant. She was from one of 'those' households.
My daughter never did find out her last name. And we will likely never see her again. But I think of her often.
She haunts me.
And I wonder what she will look like twenty years from now.
Will she look like all of those happy women from Russian or China or Cuba who are so beaten down by oppression that their only hope is someday Heaven?
Or will she look like Stevie Nicks, the smoky-voiced gypsy of Fleetwood Mac fame, who rejected her legalistic Pentecostal upbringing...only to find bondage somewhere else?

Stop dragging her heart around. 

I'm a long-time, ardent, vocal participant (and sometime critic) of homeschooling.
Both Brett and I have served in various leadership capacities within the homeschooling community.
Our ten children have blossomed in our homeschooling environment.
We've all made life-long, amazing, godly friends in homeschooling.
Big fan.


Homeschooling is largely responsible for a number of movements which, I fear, tend to live at the top of slippery slopes. These are popular movements among many of my dear friends. But I have some concerns. Let me explain.

Homeschooling is the movement which brought us Train Up a Child.
Not a fan.
This is the approach which advocates, for example, teaching an infant not to bite during breastfeeding by pulling her hair.
You are not Pavlov, and your children are not dogs.
Consider their frames. Psalm 103:14
Consider that there is a time before they know right from wrong. Isaiah 7:16
You are not grooming them for a dog show; you are shepherding their souls.

Training our children is not a rats-in-the-lab activity that focuses on reflexes or bells. Training our children requires addressing their souls, not their reflexes. It requires preaching the Gospel.
Good parenting communicates to the child and about the child, "I am a great sinner; Christ is a great Savior."
And it requires an "I need Jesus, too" attitude.
Ditch the dog-training. Find Gospel wisdom in Ted Tripp's Shepherding a Child's Heart or Doug Wilson's Standing on the Promises.
"The Pearls" (I just love how people refer to The Pearls like they're found in holy writ) turn the Train Them Up crank too far.

Homeschooling is also the movement that brought us the concept of daughter as Dad's Helper.
Not a fan.
This approach stems from a good and godly zeal to raise daughters to understand their task as keepers of the home.
But...consider that this is a very slippery slope, not to mention problematic.
Problematic? I think yes. First, the role of helper belongs to the wife, solely the wife. To place the daughter in that position is to usurp the wife's role. Second, the role of helper comes as part and parcel of the intimacy of the marriage covenant. You see where I'm going with this. And you can't--you.can.not--have one without the other. Third, where there is gender-specific training, that training is done by the same gender (Titus 2). In other words, daughters in the home should be Mom's helpers, not Dad's. One is scripturally defensible; one is...not. Finally, I venture to say that you would not let your son usurp the role of the husband by 'practicing being the head of the household.' You would not let him have authority over your wife (or else we've got another, far more serious issue...).
This approach turns the Titus 2 crank too far.

Homeschooling is the movement that brought us Hyper Modesty.
Not a fan.
Cover up, girls. Shame on you for your curves and your eyelashes and your silky hair. Here, you she-devil temptress, you, take this flour sack and this headcovering and get behind me, Satan.
But...isn't that immodest?  Immodesty, after all, is really letting something other than Christ in you attract attention. Black tights and sin-sifters stick out like neon signs in our culture. They attract, rather than deflect, attention.
It is no shame that our daughters have hips, legs, and breasts; it is a shame to pretend that they don't.
Making our daughters feel guilty for looking like women and liking it turns the modesty crank too far.

Is it sinful to train your kids like dogs? Technically, no.
Is it sinful to train your daughters to be Dad's helpers?
Is it sinful to cover your daughter in a burqa? Unfortunately, no.
None of these are reasons to send the elders in to do an intervention.
But, they are all slippery slopes which can have unintended consequences. And they can seriously backfire on earnest, God-fearing parents.
Worse, to teach something is Biblically correct when it is merely a house rule, is to be more pious than God. And it cheapens our claim to Sola Scriptura.

All this crank turning too far makes us off-plumb.
And off-plumb, even a little, is not plumb.
It's not okay, in an effort to avoid the ditch of lawlessness, to back into the ditch of legalism  .
Where does this land of Off-Plumb take us?
Where does all this risky insistence of parenting on top of the slippery slopes bring our children?

I give you Homeschoolers Anonymous.
(Note: There are other sites out there created solely to respond to homeschoooling off-plumb, too. Yes, I am keeping in mind that one man seems right until another states his case. But that wisdom works in both directions, and these sites are the other man stating his case.)

I've spent a good bit of time this week reading the posts over at Homeschoolers' Anonymous.
My heart is heavy.
These are kids who were raised in Off-Plumb.
They are angry. They are hurt. They have rejected the Gospel.
But, as my son Luke (who has been blogging with his friends about this issue over at Thinkers, Incorporated) so adeptly pointed out, there are no good guys over there.
Not the rebel kids.
Not the legalistic parents.
Not the absentee elders.
I'd venture to say that these kids don't even know what the Gospel is.

And I begin to wonder, parents, who of us is in danger of raising a future HA blogger?

I'm asking myself a few questions these days. Come ask them with me.

1. Am I putting obedience above relationship?
When my child fails--and he will fail--I need to bring him to the Cross. My goal should never, ever, ever be outward submission. That misses the point completely. Rather, my goal should be to get at that attitude in his heart that doesn't love God and His goodness. And getting him to please Mommy and Daddy also misses the mark. Put down your ego, for crying out loud. This is NOT about you. Getting your child to want to please the Lord is the goal. This sorely convicts me.

2. Am I recognizing that these children are fearfully and wonderfully made...and that they might be a whole lot different from me?
They have bents and gifts and talents which are uniquely theirs. Do I grant them, in the midst of our shepherding, a certain level of autonomy? Do I let him dream about the future, even if my kid is a romantic, and his ideas seriously yank my own rationalist chain? Or do I lay down the "Thou shalt run the family business" law? Do I let them see where their hearts lead them in searching for a mate? Or do I manipulate them into a romance not of their choosing? Do I grant them the freedom, for the sake of Romans 14, to raise households that might look different from mine?

3. How do I handle their sin?
Wow. I've been searching my heart on this one. If one of my children were to come to me and tell me that they struggled with same-sex attraction, do I have such a grasp of the Gospel that I am non-plussed? that I tell them that is evidence of their Adamic nature? that they must take every thought captive and fight the good fight? Or do I fly off the handle, take all their identification, and drive them to the middle of nowhere with $7 to their name (true HA story)? Where's the Cross in this picture? If the Cross is not dead-center in the story of my children's sin, then I am failing them utterly. If I am more concerned about my reputation among the Saints than about working and walking with them through every valley of the shadow of death, then I am failing them utterly.

4. Does my child have a biblical understanding of sex, gender, and roles?
Do I teach my child God's glorious plan for men and women, marriage, complementarianism, fathers and mothers, family, and child-rearing? Or do I swing to Biblically unsupportable extremes regarding both patriarchy and submission? Do I make sex and their bodies a taboo topic? Is fashion evil? Do I speak with harshness when I talk about their gender? Or do I speak confidently about all of these good gifts?

Bottom line:
If we tell our children we believe the Gospel, we jolly well better believe the Gospel.
If we want our children to approach us, we jolly well better be approachable.
If we want our children to know that we love them unconditionally, we jolly well better not set conditions on our love.

These tragic HA cases are tragic precisely because there is no Gospel to be found anywhere on that site. Like Stevie Nicks, they've jumped from a godless frying pan into a godless fire.
And they're good with that, they all say.
They're over there rationalizing about their sinful choices by saying that they are 'born that way,' And I agree; we are all 'born that way.' But that's bad news. And not a single soul over at HA is preaching the Good News. I think it's because their parents and their elders never preached the Gospel. What a shame. But then, the Gospel doesn't live in Off Plumb.

You want to see what it looks like for fathers to exasperate their children? It looks like Homeschoolers Anonymous.

We better be ready to be peacemakers in our home.
We better be ready to lead them Through Smoke...

Before the truth will come to fill our eyes,
The wool comes down in the form of lies.
When the answers and the truth have cut their ties
Will you still find me,
Will you still see me through smoke? *

which brings me to my next point...
More to come.

*Through Smoke, Needtobreathe, 2009

Tuesday, August 13, 2013

Buon Giorno, Principessa! (or...Beautiful Headship)

(This music is just the right aesthetic for beautiful headship. Enjoy as you read.)

Headship is an incredible thing because God's design for the sexes is an incredible thing. When it is done badly, it is scarring. But when it is done Biblically, it is beautiful.

When our oldest child graduated from high school, Brett and I wanted to give him something meaningful, a memento he could take with him into adulthood which would remind him of who he is and where he came from and simultaneously encourage and sober him about where he was heading. We thought briefly about a purity ring, but that wasn't quite what we were after. We wanted something to remind him of who he is in Christ, and purity is merely one sub-category of maturity in Christ.

With that in mind, Brett came up with the idea of a headship ring. The concept behind this was that it would be something that would remind Zach that, no matter where he went,...
He is a sheep, and he is to be inspectable;
He will one day shepherd a household, and his job will be to inspect;
A fool spurns the covering of the local church, and a wise man treasures it;
Every choice he makes, he makes as a subject of the Great King.

When our daughter graduated, we got her a headship ring, as well. For our daughters, the concept of headship is only slightly altered.
She is a sheep, and her job is to be inspectable;
She will one day shepherd her children, even as she is shepherded by her husband;
A fool spurns the covering of her husband, and a wise woman treasures it;
Every choice she makes, she makes as a subject of the Great King.

Our third child got his ring when he graduated, too, and we hope to continue that tradition eight more times.

But something happened this summer that absolutely moved me. Brett and I were out on a date one evening, when he lamented that he did not have a headship ring. Why did that bother him? Because he didn't want his children to think that spiritual authority, inspectableness, subjection to Christ was just kid stuff...
that he, as the head of his household, was also to be under authority himself. 

That's beautiful headship.

Beautiful headship loves the local church.
He's not doing some ill-advised home-church thingy, avoiding accountability and the preaching of God's word and simply feeding his emotional, relational needs.
He shuns bad doctrine that says the church is simply where two or more believers are gathered.
He knows he is a sheep first, with failings and struggles and natural bents which dilute his impact in his family and in the kingdom.
Beautiful headship makes himself vulnerable and inspectable via human, spiritual authority. He craves the oversight of the local church and the growth it brings him.
Beautiful headship has this starting point: I am a sinner saved by grace.

Beautiful headship loves his sheep.
He invests the time it takes--and it takes a lot of time--to look at his sheep, to apply the rod and staff of God's Word. He eagerly speaks truth, coupled with a humble mercy that says, "I struggle, too" into his children's lives.
Sometimes, it looks like a conversation in the driveway after a men's meeting with the 22 year old.
Sometimes it looks like an hours-long, one-on-one dinner with the 19 year old.
Sometimes it looks like sitting on the grass by the garden with the 10 year old, instructing with plants.
Sometimes it looks like he and the 4 year old, wearing matching Crocodile Dundee hats, sitting on the back porch, and talking of the wonders of the coming baby.
Or sometimes, it looks like a stern, "You will not address my wife that way."
Or, "Go think about how loving your sister would look."
Or, "I'm taking this privilege away from you because it is dangerous for you."

Beautiful headship loves his wife and knows she is the weaker vessel.
He is not threatened by her input; he welcomes it.
He views her as his partner, not his project.
He sees her sin; he knows her back story. He exhorts her to resist responding to the imbalance of her past with imbalance in the present. And he lives with her in an understanding way.
He loves her when she is not lovable and washes her with the water of the Word.
It usually looks like, "Did I tell you I love you today?"

My favorite movie is Life is Beautiful. To me, it is the perfect illustration of beautiful headship. When a Jewish-Italian family is divided by the horror of the Holocaust, one heroic father struggles to keep them together. He protects his son, not from the Nazis, but from hating the Nazis, by hiding their hatred with a game. How interesting that the most important thing to this father was not that his son be spared evil, but that his son not return evil for evil. But he worries about his wife, who is separated from him in the women's barracks.

Then he stumbles upon a Victrola and a copy of their song. Risking Nazi retribution, he plays the song over the concentration camp loud speaker after greeting her with "Buon giorno, Principessa!" It is at once an intimate and public declaration of his commitment to his beloved. And from the women's barracks, his beloved hears and heeds his shepherding cry.

That is beautiful headship.
It is risky. It is vulnerable.
It is humbly serving and confidently leading.
It is intimate, and it is public.
It says, "I love the Lord too much, and I love you too much to not lead."

This Father's Day, we presented Brett with his own headship ring, one that looks just like the ones we give our sons. As they presented it, my 12 year old read this to him:
Dear Dad,
All of our lives, it has been made abundantly clear to us, your children, that we are always held accountable for our actions. Ideas have consequences: good ideas have good consequences and bad ideas have bad consequences. You have shown us that when we do something wrong, you are quick to discipline but then quick to forgive. Likewise, when we do something well, you are quick to encourage.
Headship is a firmly established office in our house. It is apparent to us, your children, that you model Christ well, representing His character with distinct clarity. Due to this, by training us to trust that you will do what you say, you have taught us to trust that God, our heavenly Father, will carry out what He says He will do, and this is what a good earthly father will do.
Matthew 8:1-10 declares the faith of the Roman centurion. A typical centurion is responsible for the care of anywhere from 80 to 1,000 men. He was a high-ranking official, with men who had to answer to him; however, he understood that he himself was not without accountability. He had to learn to trust that the official he answered to would take care of him and would take that responsibility seriously.  He had no choice other than to put his faith in such a man. Matthew 8:10 says, "When Jesus heard this, he marveled and said to those who followed him, 'Truly, I tell you, with no one in Israel have I found such faith.' "
Dad, you have shown us the meaning of headship and what it looks like. You have shown us that you are going to take care of us, looking out for both our physical and spiritual needs.
Because of your exemplary representation of God the Father in our lives, we present to you your own headship ring as a reminder to both you and us, your children, of the One who we all really answer to.
I live in the house where Beautiful Headship lives.
The same man who cries "Buon giorno, Principessa!" over the loud speaker that everyone hears is the same man who whispers, "Did I tell you I love you today?" while I'm cooking dinner.
This is the man who told me, after he had his ring for a few days, "Man, this ring is heavy!"
"Does it bother you?" I asked.
He said, "The weight reminds me of this awesome responsibility I have to God and to my family. It is a heavy thing."

It is a heavy thing; I don't envy his responsibility.
That is the stuff of headship.
And soberly embracing that weight is beautiful headship.

Oh, that all women and children could know a headship that is beautiful.

But the centurion replied, "Lord, I am not worthy to have you come under my roof, but only say the word, and my servant will be healed. For I, too, am a man under authority, with soldiers under me. And I say to one, 'Go,' and he goes and to another, 'Come,' and he comes and to my servant, 'Do this,' and he does it." When Jesus heard this, He marveled and said to those who followed him, "Truly, I tell you, with no one in Israel have I found such faith" Matthew 8:8-10 

Monday, July 29, 2013

Choosy Mothers Choose the Gospel

I know I have a history of giving the Roman Catholic religion some grief here and there. And it probably comes off as foolish, one woman picking a fight with one of the largest religions in the world. But this is not an academic or hypothetical debate. Not to me. This is personal.

I've stood on this cliff. I come from a long line of people who have stood on it. And you better believe I'm going to point out the cliff to my kids.
And while I'm no professionally trained theologian, these are errors so large that I can see them from my armchair.
Choosy mothers choose the gospel.

Observation #1: I was baptized into this tradition as an infant. But I utterly reject its validity. Not to my knowledge was there one believer in the entire place. It wasn't until I was three years old--when my parents both became believers--that I was finally a member of a covenant household. A covenant is an agreement, initiated by God, between Himself and another party. Baptism is a sign of the covenant. (I am not arguing in any way against paedobaptism; I fully support it.) But while omnipresent God was at this little shindig of mine, there was no other believing party, rendering my 'baptism' nothing more than a baby shower.

Observation #2: Growing up, one of my family members was plagued by guilt. And the reason? According to her, all the blame could be placed squarely at the feet of the nuns who taught her first eight years of school. Guilt? Whatever happened to grace? What about penance teaches grace? What about penance has anything to do with the finished work of Jesus? WHAT?!?!

At bedtime, we have a routine that fights this kind of nonsense. As we tuck our younger children in bed, after songs and prayers, it goes like this:
Are you my favorite 4/6/8/etc year old? (Yes.)
Do I love you when you're good? (Yes.)
Do I love you when you're bad? (Yes.)
Why do I love you? (Because I'm your boy/girl.)


Observation #3: I spent a month every summer with my Catholic grandparents, who went to Mass (and took me along) every Saturday evening. It was there that I noticed the irony. I know--I know--I was the only believer on my pew every summer. Yet I was the only one barred from the Lord's Supper. What kind of church bars the qualified and qualifies those who should be barred?

It's what you call ironic.

Observation #4: I was about twenty-four when a dear, elderly relative passed away. And I grieved over her eternity. She was an excellent Catholic; she demonstrated very little evidence that she was a Christian.

Observation #5: When I was about twenty-eight, something really wonderful, really miraculous happened. My grandfather got saved. It was a fluke, but one weekend, he skipped Mass and attended church. He heard the gospel--and all the angels in heaven were rejoicing. (Actually, it wasn't a fluke. My parents had been praying for over twenty-five years for him.)

A baptism that wasn't.
A woman needlessly plagued by guilt.
A Christian denied communion and non-Christians admitted to it.
A lifelong Catholic who was never saved.
A lifelong Catholic who lived his first eight decades before hearing and accepting the gospel.
What is wrong with this picture???

I'm not talking about the salvific nature of rites (despite scriptural teaching to the contrary).
I'm not talking about praying to dead people (or praying for dead people).
I'm not talking about dividing believers into saints and non-saints.
I'm not talking about dividing people into priests and non-priests or the suspicious specter of a 'vicar of Christ.' (Never mind that a mouthpiece for God is always subject to judgment by scripture. And while we have not seen a Leo X in many years, consider the present pontiff, Francis. The dear old soul wants to give moral atheists a way to heaven--a way around the Way, the Truth, and the Life--and he's willing to give time off in Purgatory if you tweet him. Does this really sound like the counsel of a true believer? )

I'm willing to call all of these the non-essentials. As really weird as they all strike me, I'm willing to agree to disagree on these things, despite the fact that I am fully convinced of their error.

I am, however, talking about the way the essentials of the  gospel get diluted by the Catholic religion.

Mary the mother of God? No. Mary the mother of our Lord. Words matter. And those words alter the nature of God and the nature of Mary, a mere human like the rest of us. This cult-like adoration of Mary gives me the willies. And it changes the gospel.
Immaculate conception? Wrong. Jesus was fully God and fully man. The Second Adam got his fully human DNA from his mama, who descended from the first Adam with all of Adam's sin nature intact.
Seven deadly sins? Uh, no. One deadly sin nature? Absolutely. The wages of sin is death.
Purgatory? Rosaries? Indulgences? Heck, no. It is finished.
Adding our own merit to Christ's? Nuh uh. It is by grace we are saved, and that not of ourselves.

False gospel?
Look to God's Word.
You tell me.

I'll say it again.
Choosy mothers choose the gospel.

I am astonished that you are so quickly deserting Him who called you in the grace of Christ and are turning to a different gospel--not that there is another one but there are some who trouble you and want to distort the gospel of Christ. But even if we or an angel from heaven should preach to you a gospel contrary to the one we preached to you, let him be accursed. Galatians 1:6-8

Wednesday, July 17, 2013

Theological and Aesthetic Ponderings on the Music of Road Tripping

A road trip to Nashville yesterday found the thirteen Adams' in one Blue Whale for fourteen hours with four revolving drivers. And I'd say it was a success.

I was the first driver up. The rule is that he who holds the keys controls the music. But our cd player is not working, so that left us with Pandora options. Brett ran through his list of options for me.
Guns and Roses? Pff. Yeah, right.
Journey? Yes!
Synthesizers, driving guitars, me bobbing my head to the music, Brett laughing.
Separate Ways.
Oh yeah. And we were off.

So, while the rest of the family lightly snoozed around the Blue Whale, I listened to Journey, Heart, Kansas, Bon Jovi, Toto, and lots of others.  And having the solitude of the wheel, it gave me time to ponder what I was hearing.

I've decided that .38 Special has written my anthem for parenting adults in Hold On Loosely:
Hold on loosely.
But don't let go.
If you cling too tightly,
You're gonna lose control.
You're baby needs Someone to believe in,
And a whole lotta space to breathe in.
So hold on loosely.
But don't let go. 

And REO Speedwagon has put the book of Hosea to rock in Keep On Lovin' You:
You should have seen by the look in my eyes, baby,
There was something missin'.
You should known by the tone of my voice, maybe,
But you didn't listen.
You played dead; but you never bled.
Instead you lay still in the grass all coiled up and hissin'.
And though I know all about those men,
Still I don't remember.
'Cause it was us, baby, way before them, 
And we're still together. 
And I meant every word I said,
When I said that I love you, I meant that I love you forever. 
And I'm gonna keep on lovin' you, cause it's the only thing I wanna do.

I was having fun.

Brett was up next, when we listened to his Mark Knopfler station. I dozed, and, thank you, Lord, his shift was over before he had a chance to get to his Delta Blues station, at which point, we would have all been subjected to Muddy Waters and Mississippi Whatshisname. Phew.

Alex managed to keep it righteous with Lecrae and tunes from Sovereign Grace, although they were liberally sprinkled with country tunes by Tim McGraw, Alan Jackson, and Faith Hill. Zach, who admitted he can't take more than two country tunes at one time,  finally gave up and put on his headphones.

The last three hour leg was taken by Zach. And suddenly, Mr. Classical (because that's what he keeps his truck radio and his bedroom radio permanently tuned to) morphed into a metalhead. We started with AC DC's tribute to Rob in Hell's Bells. His occasional hard rock tune had me gaping incredulously at him. Who are you? Not to mention the tortuously bad Land Down Under by Men at Work. While I gagged, everyone else in the car, even the younger ones, were tapping their toes. But his bad choices were punctuated with good stuff by Genesis or Foreigner, and all of us were singing when Peter Gabriel's Sledge Hammer came on. Brett was even doing a little be-bop from the second bench.
Yeah, yeah, yeah, yeah, yeah, yeah, yeah, yeah, yeaaaaaaaah.

Zach's playlist included one blow-me-away country song by Eric Church called Sinners Like Me. I had never heard it before, but it made me smile:
I was fifteen when my daddy's old man
Caught me halfway through my first beer.
He laughed so hard when my face turned green,
He said, "You come from a long line of sinners like me."

Oh, if our own parenting could always be laced with Grace like that!!!

Every TULIP begins with T, and this little song more than ably addressed sin and the quilted layer of grace that God lays on top. What? Sinning? Yeah, you 'n' me both, kiddo.

And as we made our way up the old gravel road that led to my parents' property, the synthesizers and the driving guitars started. Why, lookee there. He's just like his mama.
Separate Ways.

We're here. We're safe. We're enjoying some Tennessee quiet.
And we'll have fourteen hours on the return trip to do some more musing on the music of Road Trips.

I love my family. I love the unity that fellowship in the Holy Spirit brings. But I'm also thankful for the individuality in one Blue Whale.


Wednesday, July 3, 2013

Choice Lessons from the Threshold of Hell

I woke up that morning humming "May the words of my mouth and the thoughts of my heart, bless Your name, bless Your name, Jesus." Seems God was gently reminding me, before I put my foot in my mouth, to watch my tongue.

After all, we were getting ready to enter the threshold of Hell.

It wasn't quite Gandalf's warning to Merry: In fact, it would be best if you just said nothing at all. But I know lots of people were thinking it about me. Heck, they might even have been praying it.

When we got there, Liza grabbed Life Tape--red duct tape with "Life" written on it--and handed me a piece.  I just looked at her.
I am disinclined to acquiesce. Means 'no.'
No. If there's an opportunity to speak, I'm gonna speak. And that's that.
Liza looked a little worried.
I think Life Tape sends a very powerful message from a lot of pro-lifers to a lot of pro-aborts. But it's not for me. And it's not a rule. I stuck in on my shirt.

But I'm getting ahead of myself...
Liza and I boarded the metrorail for downtown, and as we took our seats, I saw the reserved seating that said, These seats must be vacated for seniors and the disabled.
And I was being transported back to my thirteen years of misery in South Florida, where we were invaded every winter by 'snow birds', a euphemism for loud, rude, penny-pinching, obnoxious old people from New York. I hated every minute of it. They have absolutely no concept of an indoor voice, and they make Oscar the Grouch look like Pollyanna. They don't even need us goyim to get going. They just have at it with each other. My mother-in-law, who shares a bit of their, uh, ethnicity, thought I was overreacting and was concerned by my prejudice.

Then we took her to the movies.
It took about fifteen minutes in line with 'them' for her to turn to me in shocked disbelief.
You thought I was making this up, nu? I smiled smugly.
You want to send me to Hell? Send me to Century Village. I'm not kidding.
My time in South Florida permanently obliterated the myth of the 'sweet old lady.'

I wish I knew then what I know now.
Rise in the presence of the aged.
I always thought implicit in all the honor commands was the assumption that the honored were honorable.
We don't honor anyone because they are honorable. We honor them because that's how we honor God.
So as I sat there on the metrorail and all these thoughts swirled in my head, it hit me.
We all have trouble honoring. Thirteen years of South Florida living means I must make a conscious choice to honor the aged, a demographic my experience tells me is often not honorable.

On the other hand, the pro-aborts don't honor pre-born humans. That's their demographic. And we pro-lifers tend to romanticize the babies we're trying to save. But let's be honest. Some of those babies will grow up to wear orange shirts and shake their fists at God. Some of those babies will become the twelve-year old neighbor who bullies your kid and teaches him some new vocabulary. Some of those babies will grow up to become Osamas and Adolfs and Rob Bells. Yet they all bear the image of their Creator. And that's why we honor the pre-born...
because honoring the pre-born is the way we honor God.
Lesson #1: I choose to honor God by honoring the aged and the pre-born.

We got off the train and headed for the  Capitol grounds. As we closed in, it was quite obvious that 100 or so of us pro-lifers were going to be seriously outnumbered by 2,000 orange pro-aborts. "Welcome to the threshold of Hell," I whispered to Eliza.

The first thing we did was attend a prayer meeting. And I was overcome with a need to pray for orange. "Lord, let those women in orange today have an encounter with the Living God. Even as their mouths say one thing, let their hearts be pierced by the truth of the Gospel." Where did that come from?

Then we assembled for a press conference in which women who had had abortions shared their experiences. And they were heartbreaking. But two stories stand out to me. "Toni" shared how her boyfriend pressured her to abort. When she attempted to leave the clinic, she was held down--HELD DOWN--by the nurse and injected with something. When she woke up, her baby was gone. That's not choice; that's China! I wonder who was there to defend Toni's choice.  "Maria" told her abortion story, and her words rang in my ears. "All they told me was that it was legal, but they didn't tell me what it was."

What do you mean? You didn't know what an abortion was??? Are you kidding me? And suddenly, I learned something. One of the biggest tools of pro-lifers is education. Show sonograms. Use diagrams. Explain the process in detail. But one of the biggest tools of the pro-aborts is ignorance. Restrict sonograms and take their money. One abortionist, according to "Julie's" story, shook his fistful of dollars at her and sneered, "I love stupid women!"

Oh my goodness. Ignorance had never occurred to me. All along, I've been thinking this was a level playing field, that they had the same information we did. But Maria said it herself. She only knew it was legal; she didn't know what it was. Not until the deed had been done.

There is a difference among the ranks of the Lost. And there is a difference in our response. There is a Psalm 15 commendation for the righteous man "in whose eyes a vile man is despised." But there is also a Jonah 4 compassion from the Lord for the sinful but ignorant: "And should I not pity Nineveh, that great city in which there are 120,000 persons who do not know their right hand from their left...?"

Did God excuse Nineveh because of their ignorance? No, Holy God did not excuse their sin. Rather, he brought them to repentance. That sea of hateful, vicious orange out there? Some of them are vile...but some of them don't know their right from their left. I began to pray for God's elect in the orange crowd, those who are His but are not yet regenerate. Lord, draw them out, and set them free.
Lesson #2: I choose to believe that some pro-aborts are just ignorant.

We entered the Capitol Rotunda next, where the shouting was beginning. Three levels up were ringed by a mixture of orange and blue, mostly orange. Behold, the wide path. I found myself standing next to an orange shirt. I was praying; she was holding a peace sign. As we looked down into the Rotunda, I felt impressed to focus on the woman next to me. So I began to pray. I prayed that she would think about this later. I prayed she would meet the Lord. The orange shirts took up a new chant. Pro-choice is not pro-death; pro-choice is not pro-death. Huh? three of us blurted out. How can they say ? A blue shirt two people over said, "Moron." Thank you, Lord, that was not me. I should pass her my Life Tape. She needed it more than I.

Suddenly, the orange woman next to me turned and said,"Thank you. Thank you for coming and standing for what you believe. I know we're on opposite sides, but this is important."
Quick. Think of something sincere and truthful. I'm really not glad she's here to oppose a bill that will bring us closer to Life. Ummmm...
"The political process, you mean?" I asked.
She nodded.
"Mm hm. It's a good thing," I said. She smiled. And we returned to our silence.
Praying, praying, praying.
Finally, she stepped back and turned to her friend. "I gotta go." We both faced each other then.
"Well," she said, "thanks." I extended my hand and smiled. "It was nice to meet you."
She smiled back and shook mine. "It was nice to meet you, too. I'm Dixie."
"And I'm Noel."
We nodded to each other, and she was gone.
Maybe not much of a conversation. But a bridge was built that moment. While a battle raged in the heavenlies and in the Rotunda, we found a little bright spot across this ugly chasm. I came expecting to meet and make enemies. I left with a new burden for a new friend.
Lesson #3: I choose to go to the Throne for Dixie, the woman in orange.

A man was roaming the second floor looking for a debate. My eyes perked up. Liza put her hand on my arm.
What? He wants to.
Be nice.
Who, me?
He found someone to engage, and we slipped off to eavesdrop. It was a bunch of gobbledy gook, in which he confused spontaneous abortion with artificial abortion. I simply pointed that out. And a reporter was asking for my name and furiously taking notes. No lesson here; just a funny interaction.

The battle continues to rage tonight at the Capitol. The orange shirts have taken up "Hail Satan" as their chant, and they are literally circling the pro-lifers, two of whom are my amazing daughters.
I told you it was the Threshold of Hell.

But this morning, as I was mulling things over and getting choked up, I spent my whole prayer time on Dixie.  And this song came on that I thought was a good anthem for the duration of this evil battle. I'll need to choose everyday to love what God loves, to be most satisfied in Him, and to remember that the battle is the Lord's. And I'll be praying for Dixie.

Let me be in love with what You love. Let me be most satisfied in You.
Forsaking what this world has offered me, I choose to be in love with You.
I will choose to be in love with You.
Let me know the peace that's mine in You; let me know the joy my heart can sing.
For I have nothing, Lord, apart from You. I choose to call on Christ in me.
I will choose to call on Christ in me.
For in the fullness of who You are, I can rest in this place.
And giving over this, my journey, Lord, I see nothing but Your face.
Let me know that You have loved me first. Let me know the weight of my response.
For You have long pursued my wandering heart. I choose to glory in Your cross.
I will choose to glory in Your cross.
And I bow down; humbly, I bow down.
My beloved, here I am. I bow down to You.

Choose by Christy Nockels

Friday, June 28, 2013

Thank You Note for a Senator

Dear Senator Davis,

I want to give a hearty thank-you for your filibuster of the Texas omnibus pro-life bill, SB 5.

If it weren't for you, I wouldn't be able to burn my baby to death by saline injection.
If it weren't for you, I wouldn't be able to slice her out of my body piece by piece by D and C.
If it weren't for you, I wouldn't be able to crush her skull with forceps to remove her annoying little body from mine.

What kind of knuckle-dragging troglodyte would come between a woman and her right to kill? And what's their problem with Comfort Care? If the unfortunate little soul still happens to be alive after all the burning and dismemberment, she gets put on a steel cookie sheet and covered with a blanket until she has the decency to die. I think that's just precious!!!

But thanks to you, SB 5 failed to pass. Every time I saw your little blond head bobbing up and down and your big 'ol mouth droning on...and on...and on...well, it just made me proud to be a woman. Yes ma'am, way to keep the ultimate child predators safe and legal!!!

When I become a senator, I want to be a minion of the Powers of Darkness, too!

Ditzy Chick for Choice


As I looked, thrones were placed, and the Ancient of Days took His seat.
His clothing was as white as snow, and the hair of His head was like pure wool;
His throne was fiery flames; its wheels were burning fire.
A stream of fire issued and came out from before Him.
A thousand thousands served Him, and ten thousand times ten thousand stood before Him;
The court sat in judgment, and the books were opened. Daniel 7:9-10

Monday, June 24, 2013

Philosophers and Fools

So I had this class back in college. I can't remember the title exactly, but it was something like "Communication Rhetoric." Being at that time only a twenty-year-old, future homeschooling mom, I wasn't familiar with the term 'rhetoric.' But it was a head-banging, frustrating study of modern 'philosophers' who poured all their energy into talking about precisely nothing. If it wasn't required for my major, I would have dropped it. As the only believer in the class, I just couldn't figure out what anyone else found so compelling in all this navel-gazing...

...which brings me to Sophie's World by Jostein Gaardner.
That was painful.

What I have a problem with is not the study of philosophy. That is a worthy pursuit for people who want to understand the course of our culture, who want to love God with all their mind. What I have a problem with is a study of philosophy which is not grounded by Truth.

But first, let me tell you about the other problems I have with Sophie's World. As a novel, it falls flat. The plot is so bizarre, it feels like something from the Twilight Zone. The characters are dislikable. Sophie is bratty, disrespectful, and rabidly feminist. Alberto is supposed to be mysterious, but he's just moody and strange, with a disturbing infatuation for the UN and one-world governments. Sophie's mother, the only authority figure, is daft and out of control of her household.

Alberto takes Sophie on a trip through history, highlighting major philosophers along the way. In fact, the book covers everyone from Democritus to Freud. (Just shoot me now.) He serves up every philosophy with equal respect, as if every philosophy has an equal shot at being Truth. I guess that's what one should expect from a book on philosophy written in a post-modern age.

This is ghastly stuff. And ghastly stuff needs the grounding of God's Word. Sophie's World has the wrong starting point. Don't get me wrong; there are a few bright spots in this history. Socrates gave us the Socratic discussion. Aristotle gave us classifications. The Reformation responded well to the humanist Renaissance. Descartes argued for an innate understanding of a Supreme Being. There's also Kant's Categorical Imperative. (But, um, I think Jesus got that one first.) Then we head downhill again with Hegel, Marx, Darwin, and Freud.

That's the story from the ground.
But from 10,000 feet and a God's-eye-view (thanks to the Scripture), we get another picture.

Man has always wrestled with the questions, "Who am I?" and "Why am I here?" But the answers are already there for us. We have the general revelation of Creation and Conscience; we have the special revelation of Scripture and the Holy Spirit. And the real 'lover of Wisdom' will go where the wisdom actually resides. Almost to a man, the philosophers in this book resisted real wisdom: beginning with the fear of the Lord. These men aren't lovers of wisdom; they are fools.

When Darwin tells us we all came from a common ancestor rather than a sovereign Creator, he denies Imago Dei. And we should understand that abortion and euthanasia are just Darwinism taken to its logical conclusion. When Hume says that we should let experience define reality for us, we should respond that the heart is deceptively wicked above all things. When Freud tells us to blame our environment rather than our depravity, we should remember that it was in a perfect Paradise that Adam fell, and the entire human race with him. When a man like Pablo Picasso paints a picture and culture calls it 'art,' we have the hopelessness of nihilism to thank.

How does one arrive at a place of understanding about who we are and why we are here if we don't acknowledge Him who is the First Cause and the Final End? We don't. And they didn't. Centuries of philosophy and they are no closer to Truth.

As ironic as it may sound, I'm more interested in my children learning to love Wisdom because, in the end, I don't care if they can identify a 'fragmented world view' nearly as much as if they can identify a fallen world, corrupted by sin, and redeemed by the Cross.

In the end, I'm looking to raise REAL philosophers, not fools.

"For the wrath of God is revealed from Heaven against all ungodliness and unrighteousness of men, who by their unrighteousness, suppress the truth. For what can be known about God is plain to them, because God has shown it to them. For His invisible attributes, namely his eternal power and divine nature have been clearly perceived, ever since the creation of the world, in the things that have been made. So they are without excuse. For although they knew God, they did not honor Him as God or give thanks to Him, but they became futile in their thinking, and their foolish hearts were darkened. Claiming to be wise, they became fools..." Romans 1:18-22
*For a grounded study of philosophy, I recommend:
The Consequences of Ideas by RC Sproul and
Understanding the Times by David A. Noebel