Friday, December 19, 2014

Apple Pecan Cobbler

Here's an easy and delicious cobbler that's perfect for the holidays. It's good year 'round, but seems especially festive at Christmas time. It has a buttery crust and has the apples in it, but also has the nutty crunch of pecans. It's both hearty and sweet. I've also seen this recipe called a dump cake, but it's really more like a cobbler than a cake. Whatever you want to call it, try making this for your family and you won't regret it.



2 (21 oz) cans apple pie filling (or 5 cups homemade)
1 teaspoon cinnamon
1/2 teaspoon nutmeg
1/4 teaspoon allspice
1 box butter pecan cake mix
3/4 cup (1-1/2 sticks) butter, cold
1-1/2 cups chopped pecans

Pour the apple pie filling into the bottom of a 9x13 baking pan (or a large casserole dish). In a small bowl, mix the cinnamon, nutmeg, and allspice together, then sprinkle on top of the apples. I didn't have plain allspice, so I substituted pumpkin pie spice and it worked fine.



Pour the dry cake mix over the apples and spices.



Cut the butter into thin slices and place them over the top of the dry cake mix. You want to cover the entire surface as much as possible. I always need about an extra tablespoon of butter to do it. The butter soaks into the cake mix as it melts and makes the cobbler crust, so you don't want any bare spots.



Sprinkle the chopped pecans evenly over the top.



Bake at 350 degrees for 50-60 minutes or until the cobbler is bubbly inside and the crust is golden brown on top. Serve warm with vanilla ice cream on top. I haven't tried it yet, but I bet it would also be good with butter pecan ice cream. The hearty, nutty crust and tender apples will make this a family favorite for years to come. Enjoy!


Tuesday, December 16, 2014

White Chocolate Fudge

Here's a great Christmas (or anytime) treat. This fudge is seriously addicting. If you like white chocolate, this is for you. It's so smooth and creamy and has a hint of buttery goodness in it. It doesn't take long to make either.






1/2 cup butter
2 cups white sugar
3/4 cup sour cream
1/2 teaspoon salt
12 oz white chocolate chips or chopped white chocolate
7 oz marshmallow creme
1 teaspoon vanilla

Line a 9x9 baking pan with aluminum foil and spray it with non-stick cooking spray.

Melt the butter in a 4-quart saucepan over low heat. Stir in the sugar, sour cream, and salt and turn the heat up to medium. Stir frequently as it heats and boils. Boil until a candy thermometer reads 235 degrees Fahrenheit or until the mixture reaches the soft ball stage. To check for soft ball stage without a candy thermometer, drip a few drops of the mixture into a glass of cold water. If the candy starts to dissolve in the water, it's not done yet. What it should do is ball up into solid pieces at the bottom of the glass that remain soft, not brittle.

Once the candy reaches the soft ball stage, remove the pan from the heat and add the white chocolate and marshmallow creme. Stir until smooth. Return the fudge to the heat if necessary to make sure all the chocolate melts, but don't heat it back to boiling.

Note: I used ordinary white baking chips and it was great, but I suspect this would be even better with real, quality white chocolate.

Once the mixture is smooth, stir in the vanilla. Pour the fudge into the pan and smooth it until it is even in top. Cool the mixture for 3-4 hours at room temperature or 1-2 hours in the refrigerator.

Once the fudge is cool and set, remove it from the pan, peel off the foil, and cut into 1" cubes. Enjoy!

Monday, December 15, 2014

Are Women Naturally Good?

Focus on the Family recently posted this meme on their page.



At first glance, many people might be tempted to agree with it. But the statement in the poster is actually false.

The truth is that there are plenty of loving, gentle men who are worthy of respect but whose wives are not responding properly to their love and gentleness. Plenty of women have fallen for the feminist ideas that they should never submit or let a man lead them and will be difficult to live with, no matter how wonderful their man is. Even among women who are not feminists, it's difficult for many women to follow a husband's leadership because our sinful nature is in rebellion against God's plan.

Submission and following our husbands is something that must be learned, not something we're born with or develop naturally. Women aren't naturally good and kind any more than men are. We're all fallen. We have to work to develop good habits and learn to do what God wants of us.

It certainly is easier for women to follow a loving, gentle man, but the poster is wrong in assuming that the only barriers to a woman following her man are his flaws. That simply isn't true. Women also have to overcome their own flaws that stand in the way of the proper relationship they were meant to have.

Unfortunately, this attitude that women are naturally good and that men are the flawed ones that need to change is very prevalent, even among Christians. Imagine the outrage people would have if the scenario was reversed and the poster said something like this:
"Men are usually comfortable being kind and loving to their wives if their wives are submissive, keep up their appearance, and respect them."
People would be up in arms over such a statement that assumes that men are always wonderful if women will just behave as they should. Why is it any different if the assumption is that women are always wonderful if men are behaving properly? Both are wrong. Both sexes are responsible for their own actions, regardless of what the other person in the marriage does.

Sunday, December 14, 2014

Sheltering Children: What it is Really About

People often criticize parents who are careful about what their children watch, listen to, or read or who monitor their friends and influences very carefully. This criticism is very commonly made of homeschooling parents, though it has certainly been applied to others as well. The claim is that these parents are sheltering their children too much and that they won't know how to deal with the real world when they enter it upon reaching adulthood. Some even claim that sheltered children will be more likely to go crazy with the sudden freedom than children who have grown up exposed to evil things of the world and are used to them.

There seems to be a misunderstanding about what sheltering is and what its purpose is.

There's a big difference between knowing about evil things that can happen and knowing evil by being steeped in it. It is certainly possible to shelter one's children too much so that they are ignorant of reality and have no idea how to function in society or how to address the wrong ideas of the world. But that's very rare. The greater danger is in putting children in the midst of evil before they are prepared (developmentally and spiritually) to handle it. That is by far the more common scenario and the one more likely to result in problems.

You don't send a soldier into battle until he's trained, and you don't send a child into the world until he's trained either. Children are very vulnerable and need protection until they are prepared to fight evil on their own.

The process of raising a child should involve progressive steps to get them used to the environment they will face as adults and prepare them to face its challenges. In much the same way as a lion cub raised by humans must be slowly acclimated to the wild by being protected while learning how to take care of himself, children must be protected while gradually giving them more information, more rigorous training, and more freedom. You don't turn a tame lion, who spent his entire life being fed everything by humans, loose in the wild because he isn't prepared. And you don't turn an untrained child loose in the world because he isn't prepared. Parenting done right is a gradual process of preparation that should culminate in an adult who is capable and informed enough to make his own way without falling into the many traps out there.

I don't want to keep my children from knowing that evil exists or the different forms it can take. I don't want to keep them ignorant of the wrong ideas of the world. However, I don't want them to learn about evil things by seeing them taking place around them before they have been taught how to handle it and what the right position is. I want them prepared to handle the evils of the world - not shocked by them or caught off guard, but prepared to fight them. To do that, I have to shelter them from experiencing those evils until they can understand my teaching about how to deal with them.

Sheltering isn't about preventing children from knowing so much as it is about learning first things first. They need the framework to know how to deal with these issues first, before they come in contact with them.




Wednesday, November 19, 2014

Creation vs. Evolution Frameworks

I hear all the time that evolution has disproven the Biblical account of creation. For some, this even leads them to discount Christianity or even theism all together. But is the evidence really so strong for evolution?

I have a master's degree in biology from a secular university. I've studied evolution in depth, and the evidence simply doesn't add up. It's not that there isn't any evidence. There is, but a lot of it depends on your interpretation. There are alternate interpretations that also make sense of the same exact data - and often some data that are more difficult for evolution to explain as well. That's why, overall, the creationist explanation fits better with the evidence. When you actually study the data and understand both frameworks well, you can evaluate which fits better. I've done that.

The main problem is that too many people evaluate the data with an incorrect view of the creation framework. They think, for example, that evolution is about change and creation is about staying the same. So when they see evidence of biological change, they think it's evidence for evolution and evidence against creation. But the truth of the matter is that both frameworks agree to a large extent on what we should see today. Both incorporate change. So you have to dig into the details of HOW that change occurs to really tell the difference.

Here is a very brief and simplified overview of the two views:


Evolution claims that organisms can become more complex over time and that information can be added to the genome through random mutation and natural selection. Evolution also claims that all organisms originated from a common ancestor and have gradually diverged into the many forms of life we have today through the buildup of these mutations.

Creation, on the other hand, claims that organisms were created by God as separate kinds that reproduce only within their kind. Creation also claims that random genetic changes, while they certainly do occur, will generally be neutral or degradative with respect to information content (though degradative changes aren't necessarily harmful to the organism and may sometimes be a good thing in some environments) and that some genetic changes may occur due to directed or programmed mutation rather than random mutation.


That’s not as simple as change versus no change.


Notice that to determine which of these frameworks is correct, one has to dig into the genetic mechanism for each observed change rather than going on more superficial characteristics like whether it is helpful to the organism.

For example, in the case of antibiotic resistance in bacteria (which is widely touted as strong evidence for evolution), in nearly every case, the actual genetic mechanism that confers resistance to the antibiotic involves dismantling or turning off some component of the cell. In some cases, for example, it's a pump in the cell membrane that, in normal bacteria, brings substances into the cell, which allows the antibiotic to enter the cell and kill it. In resistant bacteria, the pump doesn't work and thus the antibiotic isn't pumped into the cell. This is very beneficial to the bacteria, of course.

But the kind of change that provided the benefit isn't the kind of change that explains how the bacteria got there in the first place. It doesn't explain how bacteria might develop into a more advanced organism. It doesn’t even explain how the pump in the cell membrane could have developed. The bacteria didn't add new information. It didn't develop a super power that dissolves antibiotics. It didn't grow stronger. In fact, in most environments, the non-resistant bacteria have the advantage because they have a working pump that does what it's supposed to do. That's why, in the absence of antibiotic pressure, bacterial populations become non-resistant again. The normal, non-resistant bacteria outcompete the broken ones that are antibiotic resistant. The actual change in the resistant bacteria was a degradative one at the genetic and cellular level. This also explains how antibiotic resistance occurs so easily. There are lots of ways to break cellular components and, thus, lots of individual mutations that will have the same effect.


So, when you look deeper, you'll see that antibiotic resistance is actually good evidence for the creation framework because it isn't the kind of change that would produce upward evolution or create new structures. Instead, it's actually a degradative change on a genetic level, just as creation predicts, which happens to be beneficial to the bacteria in some circumstances.

Another good example of something that is thought to be evidence for evolution is speciation. Many people mistakenly believe that the creation view involves fixed species. This is not the case. What the Bible says is that God created organisms to reproduce after their kinds. Assuming that “kinds” and “species” are the same thing is a common mistake. The modern species concept is useful as far as it goes, but it is largely subjective where you draw the line. There is no reason to suppose that the species reflects an actual divide between significantly different organisms. Thus, there is no reason to think that there could be no speciation events within Biblical kinds.

The Biblical kind is actually thought (by creation scientists) to be roughly equivalent to the Family level of taxonomy, although it may vary in different organisms because the man-made taxonomic system may not always reflect the difference in kinds consistently. Thus, while speciation has been observed and there are also many other cases where the evidence for speciation is good, none of those cases provide any evidence against the creation viewpoint. We creationists expect speciation and variation within the Biblical kinds. What we don’t expect (or observe) is evidence of common ancestry for all life.

There are many examples like these where something looks like evidence for evolution at first glance, but on deeper investigation turns out to be consistent with creation or even supports creation better. For those who don’t understand the actual creation framework, it can look like evolution has mountains of evidence to support it. When you understand what the creation models actually predict, you realize that it’s more complicated than that. And when you start evaluating the real creation framework versus the evolutionary one, you start to see the evidence tip in favor of creation.


Sunday, November 16, 2014

A Culture of Shamelessness

Our culture has a knee-jerk reaction to shame. The hedonistic culture we live in hates shame because we don’t like to feel bad for our sin. Thus, we have people trying to “ban shame” and who refer to “shaming” someone as if it were…well, shameful.

We now have a culture of people who have largely lost their shame and refuse to admit to any guilt or feel any bad feelings for their wrongdoing. Rather than view wrong actions as something to be ashamed of, they view the feeling of shame as the evil to be avoided.

The truth is, shame is a good thing. It’s like physical pain in that it’s a warning sign that something is wrong. People without pain receptors often injure themselves and may even kill themselves without realizing they’re causing damage. Shame is similar. Feeling shame is a warning sign that we have done wrong and that we need forgiveness from God. It’s the normal, proper response to committing sin that God programmed into us. We’re supposed to feel shame when we sin so that we realize our need for a Savior. People with a blunted sense of shame, like people without pain receptors, may continue to damage themselves (spiritually, relationally, emotionally, and in their reputations) without realizing it and without seeking the forgiveness and healing they need.

Trying to remove shame by avoiding or denying the feeling only takes away the symptom, not the actual guilt. It doesn’t solve the real problem. It hides it.

Of course, people can feel false shame where they feel guilty for something that wasn’t wrong. And people can hypocritically point out the shame of others while ignoring their own guilt. Both of those are bad. But shame, in itself, isn’t a bad thing. It’s meant to turn us to God.

Many people in our culture would rather remove the bad feelings of shame than to address the underlying issue by admitting their guilt and their need for a Savior. A culture, like ours, that is focused on abolishing shame is a culture of people who are desperately trying to ignore their own sinfulness and the conviction of the Holy Spirit.

Friday, November 7, 2014

Chicken Thighs and Brown Rice

Here's a very easy crock-pot recipe that makes the most delicious chicken and rice. I'm not usually a fan of dark meat, but these chicken thighs are really good and even this die-hard chicken-breast-only girl will eat them readily. My little ones love this meal too. With the whole grain brown rice, it's a fairly healthy choice for supper. It's also a pretty inexpensive meal, so it's win-win for everyone.




4-6 chicken thighs (with skin on)
2 cups brown rice
4-1/2 cups water
3 tablespoons butter, divided
Lemon pepper
Rosemary
Sage
Thyme
Black pepper
Salt

Pour the water into the crockpot and add the rice and about a tablespoon of butter. Add rosemary, thyme, sage, and salt. I use about 3/4 teaspoon rosemary, 1/8 teaspoon each of thyme and sage, and 1/2 teaspoon salt. I never measure it, but that's approximately how much to use. Stir the water and rice well to make sure each rice grain gets wet on all sides. If you have a lump of dry rice at the bottom, it makes it stick together in a big lump as it cooks.



Melt the remaining butter. Add lemon pepper, sage, thyme, salt, and pepper. Again, I never measure, but it's approximately 1-1/2 tablespoons lemon pepper, 1/4 teaspoon each of thyme, sage and pepper, and 1/2 teaspoon salt. Mix the seasonings with the melted butter.

Tip: I use the same seasoning blend for several of my chicken recipes, so I usually just mix up a big bunch of it and keep it in an empty seasoning bottle. It makes it so much easier to season up chicken in a hurry, whether that's this recipe or my butter baked chicken, roast chicken, or even lemon pepper chicken strips.

Now it's time to get out the chicken.

Tip: I buy chicken thighs in the big packages when they go on sale and freeze them in freezer bags with 4-6 thighs per bag. Then, when I want to make this recipe for dinner, I just pull out one bag from the freezer and thaw it in warm water in the sink for an hour or two. If you've ever tried thawing chicken that was frozen in the original packaging, it's a pain! This is so much easier.

Loosen the skin from the chicken thighs, but don't remove it. Coat the surface of the meat with the butter and spices.



I usually put a little bit of the butter and spices on the underside of the thighs too. Put the skin back over the top of the thighs and try to cover as much of the meat as you can. There's usually a long flap of skin that I wrap under the thigh also. Place the thighs on top of the rice in the crockpot.



Put the lid on the crockpot and turn it on high for 5 hours or until the chicken is tender and the water is absorbed by the rice. That's it! You don't even have to stir it during cooking.



To serve, take the chicken thighs out and place them on a warmed plate or platter. Then stir the rice in the crockpot to mix in all the seasonings and juices.



You can serve the chicken and rice as separate items or de-bone the chicken, cut it up, and stir it into the rice for a dish that's more like a casserole.

Serve with a vegetable dish of your choice. I recommend green peas. Other good choices are squash, carrots, green beans, or a green bean casserole. Enjoy!



Thursday, October 23, 2014

Loaded Chicken and Potatoes

 
This is SO good. It takes a little time to prepare and cook, so you do have to plan ahead, but it's worth it and it makes great leftovers. Bacon, cheese, chicken, potatoes, and ranch dressing. What's not to like?






1/3 cup olive oil
1-1/2 tsp salt
1 tsp black pepper
1 Tbsp paprika
2 Tbsp garlic powder
2 Tbsp hot sauce or vinegar
1 lb. boneless skinless chicken breasts
6-8 medium red potatoes
2 cups fiesta blend cheese
1 cup bacon crumbles
1 cup diced green onion (optional)
Ranch dressing

In a large bowl, combine the olive oil, spices, and hot sauce or vinegar until thoroughly mixed. I'm not big on spicy foods, so I just use vinegar. If you like it spicy, use hot sauce (which has vinegar in it). You're basically making a salad dressing with oil and vinegar and spices.



Cut the chicken breasts into roughly 1" cubes. Cut the potatoes into 1/2" cubes (they can be longer than 1/2", but shouldn't be too thick). Stir the chicken and potato pieces into the oil and spice mixture until all pieces are well-coated.



Pour into a 13" x 9" baking pan or large casserole dish. (In these pictures, I actually did a recipe and a half and put it all in a 15" x 11" baking pan. It works just as well, but it might need a few extra minutes in the oven.)



Bake at 400 degrees for 1 hour or until the potatoes are tender and the chicken is done. You may want to stir it a couple of times during cooking to be sure it all gets evenly done.

While the chicken and potatoes are in the oven, cook about 1/2 a pound of bacon until it starts to get crispy. Cool and crumble into pieces.



When the chicken and potatoes are done, top with bacon, then with fiesta cheese, then green onions (if you want them). Put the dish back in the oven for a minute or two to melt the cheese.

Serve with ranch dressing (or sour cream, but ranch dressing is way better). Enjoy!


Monday, October 6, 2014

Four Promises for My Boys if They Tell Me They are Gay: From an Ordinary Christian Mother

Today's post is a guest post from a family friend, Martha McLean. It originally appeared on her new blog, Confessions of a Horribly Disorganized, Totally Weird, Homeschool Mom. I read it and really liked it because it is exactly how a Christian parent should respond to a child who "comes out" as a homosexual. It balances truth and love. It affirms love for the child, but doesn't condone sinful behavior. May we all learn to speak the truth in love like this.

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I read an article recently titled “If I Have Gay Children: Four Promises from a Christian Pastor/Parent.” The thoughts represented in it have stayed with me for about a week now, begging to be answered. Maybe answered isn’t the right term here. It isn’t really an answer to that blog that I need to write, but an answer to my own children on why some of my promises will be a bit different if they come home and tell me they are gay. The author of the post I mentioned claims to be a Christian parent and pastor. I do not claim to know the author’s heart, and I am not trying to belittle anything he wrote. In the end, what I think, what he thinks, or what you think, have no bearing on truth, and therefore, I do not seek to change the minds of any reader here, nor of the man who wrote the original post.

There is a matter here that I feel is important. My child, as of this moment, has not come home and told me he was gay. I have never faced this issue, and therefore, I can only promise my children what I plan to do. How I plan to react. I do understand that quite often the moment we find out what we will really do is the moment we face the realities of the situation. The following four promises are made from what I know and understand now. The rest I will only know and understand when and if I ever walk this path.

 1. I will not hide you, nor will I applaud you.

I believe living a homosexual lifestyle is a sin. (Just so you know, same sex attraction is not a sin.) My opinion on this comes from the Word of God. Whether anyone else believes the Bible or not, I do. Without apology. I believe that homosexual behavior is a sin because the Bible says it is. However, I also believe marrying a woman (all my kids are boys) who is not a Christian is a sin. Having a sexual relationship outside of marriage is a sin. Lying in order to be looked upon in a better light is a sin. Gossip is sin. Laziness is sin….and the list goes on.

If you come home with a woman who is not a Christian and announce you plan to marry her, I will not applaud your decision, nor will I hide it. It will be no different if you come home with a man.

No matter what behavior you may embrace, you are still my child. We will always be a family. You will always be welcome in my home. Those you love will be welcome in my home. I will ask that while in my home you respect my beliefs, just as I would in your home. If you come home with the girlfriend you are living with, you will not sleep together while in my home. If you come home with a boyfriend, I will ask the same. However, if I go visit you, I will not ask you to change because I am there. This is simply a matter of respect. I hope that I will have taught you to respect others in a way that this would never be a problem.

I also would expect others to respect you, and consider you part of the family. Family reunions where you are not invited, I will not attend. This is not an endorsement of your lifestyle. It is a confirmation of your permanent place in my life and my heart.

2. I will pray for you.

I will pray for you to change, but I will not pray for you to conform to my way of thinking. Instead, I will pray that God will draw you, my son, to Him. This, by the way, is the same prayer I pray for all of my children already. It is the prayer I will pray for my kids regardless of your life choices. It is the prayer I will continue to pray daily for the rest of my life. 

3. I will love you.

I would like to stop here and tell a story that has helped me understand true love. As an adult, I have heard stories of extreme love shown by parents whose daughter came home pregnant, or whose son had to enter drug rehab or other such things we would consider “bad”. On the other hand, I have also seen and heard of those who have rejected their children. For some it has been because of “tough love”, for others it was because they were simply repulsed by their child’s behavior. There is a family I know, however, that has truly shown Christ’s unconditional love in the face of what seems to be overwhelming obstacles. I will not mention their names, nor will I go into great detail about their story. I will simply say that I watched as their child was convicted of murder. I have shed tears as I see pictures of them together posted on facebook taken from a prison visiting area. I have stood and watched from afar as parents love their kid regardless of what they may have done. Through this family, I have been able to get a small glimpse into the “other side” of tragedy. The side of the silent victim—the family of the accused/guilty. Through them I have seen an honest glimpse into the love my Heavenly Father lavishes on me, a sinner no better than that son who committed a terrible crime, that daughter who gave her body away for a needle full of heroin, or any other human that goes astray. I am that woman who gossips as God weeps over my sin, yet He still loves me. I am the one that sometimes has a bad attitude when my Father simply asks me to go out of my way for a minute to help someone else. I am the child that doesn’t trust as I should. My Father doesn’t always approve of my lifestyle, but He always loves me.

I say all that to say: A parent does NOT have to agree with their child’s lifestyle to love them. They do not have to love what the child does to passionately care for their child. Just as I love you now when you lie or disobey, I will love you when you are older, regardless of what you do. 

4. I will not change my mind for you.

I think this is where people tend to have a problem. People seem to think that in order to love and accept another person, they both must agree on important things like this. Honestly, sometimes it seems that this area of homosexuality is so much more important than other areas to many people. If I disagree with you then I am simply a hateful bigot. So many times the “Judge not lest ye be judged…” line is spewed (out of context I might add) without the first thought to the fact that they have in fact judged those with whom they disagree. I want my kids to be clear on this one thing….your “coming out of the closet” will not change my love for you, nor will it change my mind about the behavior.

Romans 1 tells us that people will begin to live exactly as they are living now. It also warns that those who know the truth about these things will, “not only do the same, but have pleasure in them that do them.” This chapter speaks of homosexuality, backbiting, murder, haters of God, and many other sins. I, with the help of God, will never take pleasure in your sin. I will, however, always take pleasure in the fact that you are my son.

If you have same sex attractions, you may already or will soon struggle in this area. If you don’t have same sex attractions, there will be some other temptation that plagues you. Every one of us is born with a sin nature. The Bible clearly teaches that Adam’s original sin brought sin into the whole world. As I said above, I am quite adept at sin myself. I, like Paul, can say, “For we know that the law is spiritual: but I am carnal, sold under sin. For that which I do I allow not: for what I would, that do I not; but what I hate, that do I.” (Romans 7:14, 15) In other words, I do the very things that I don’t want to do. I have a struggle with my sinful nature on a daily basis. You have the same struggles. I want you to know that you can talk to me…we can pray together. I cannot promise that things will get better, that your struggle will go away, but I can promise that I will listen and not condemn (that’s not my job). I will not change my mind because I can’t. I believe the Bible is clear on this issue, but I can share with you where I struggle. I will remind you that God loves you, and I will always, always love you too.


Martha McLean is a wife, homeschool mother, interpreter for the deaf, and most of all a Christian.  She has written on and off for many years, but has just recently started a blog where she will be discussing her homeschooling successes and failures, as well as other things that are important to her.  Her goals through her writing are to encourage others and to glorify the Savior.

Tuesday, September 9, 2014

The Bible is NOT a Book

Many times, when I engage in discussion with atheists, I get some sort of dismissive remark about how I get my morality from some 2,000 year old book or ridiculing the idea of depending on an ancient book for knowledge about God. Even many Christians speak of the Bible as “a book.”

But we need to get away from referring to the Bible as a book. The Bible is NOT a book. It is a collection of books and other writings, written by roughly 40 different authors over the span of about 1,600 years. There are 66 distinct documents in the Bible, some of which are actually collections of works themselves (such as the Psalms).

Thus, referring to the Bible as a book is incorrect. It is more like an anthology. It may be printed as a single volume, but it is not a book.

Realizing that the Bible is not a single book is important for several reasons. Perhaps most importantly, the real nature of the Bible as a collection of works from multiple authors means that the books of the Bible are independent sources that confirm one another. This cannot be overemphasized.

In many cases, during a discussion of the Bible’s accuracy, I have had people ask me what evidence I have “outside the Bible.” Of course, I can and do provide evidence for the claims of the Bible from outside sources. There are many, many evidences from multiple sources that support the accuracy and historicity of the Bible. Archaeology and various written records throughout history have confirmed details written in the Bible. Science sheds light on some aspects of the Bible. There are many kinds of evidence one could use. Christians should be informed of these evidences and use them to defend their faith.

However, the books of the Bible also confirm one another. And because the books in the Bible are independent documents, this is important evidence for the Bible’s accuracy.

If the Bible were a single book, it would be far easier to dismiss. If one person were making all these claims which were not backed up by any other source, it would be easier to ignore them. But when you have 40 different writers, in different places and times, with different backgrounds and purposes, and recording different events, but whose writings remain consistent with each other and, in many cases, confirm and support one another – that’s powerful evidence that what they wrote was true.

As an example, take the life of Jesus. People often ask what evidence we have of Jesus’ existence or of certain things He did. There is certainly evidence outside the Bible that Jesus existed from Josephus and several other writers of the first few centuries AD. But the Bible itself contains four independent testimonies about Jesus that confirm one another. The books of Matthew, Mark, Luke, and John were written by different people. Matthew and John were actual disciples of Jesus who were there during His ministry and crucifixion. Mark was a protégé of Peter, another disciple. Luke was a historian and scholar who compiled accounts of Jesus from eyewitnesses. All of them verify each other’s accounts in multiple places.

In addition to the gospel accounts, the writings of Paul, Peter, John, and others in the rest of the New Testament, though they aren’t specifically written to give the account of Jesus’ life, often refer to details of Jesus’ life and teachings that agree with what the gospels tell of Him.

Considering that the books of the Bible are separate and independent documents, dismissing them as a unit is erroneous. One might be able to claim that the authors all had a bias or ulterior motive for what they wrote, but so did most of the people who wrote documents from which we piece together history. The point is that there are multiple, independent sources which confirm details of the Christian faith and the historical timeline associated with it. The fact that we often collect these documents into one volume and call it “The Bible” does not in any way reduce the importance of this confirmation.

As an analogy, suppose people were to collect all the books, letters, diaries, and news articles that have been written about the events of 9/11 into a single volume called “The Attack of 9/11.” Then, in a couple thousand years when a skeptic is doubting that 9/11 ever happened, someone shows this volume to him. The skeptic says to the other person, “Yeah, but that’s just one book. What evidence do you have outside this book?”

Obviously, the 9/11 skeptic would be ignorant and incorrect to say that. While there might be other evidence outside “The Attack of 9/11” that could be used as confirmation, the skeptic would be ignoring the many evidences “inside” the volume which record and confirm the events. The individual news articles from different parts of the country which all portray the events in the same way, the diaries of people who remember it, and the books written about it by people who talked to eyewitnesses are all independent sources, even if they are published as a single volume. It is the same for the books of the Bible.

In our society, there are many attacks upon the Christian faith and the historicity of the Bible. One of the ways to help combat these is to point out that the Bible is not a single book, but an extensive collection of documents that support one another. This “internal” verification and consistency is important evidence of the Bible’s authenticity that should not be overlooked or ignored.


Sunday, September 7, 2014

Some Tips for Having a Strong, Happy Family

I recently read an interesting article on 6 Things the Happiest Families Have in Common. I don't find any of them surprising, though many in our hectic and fractured society might. Research keeps showing that the traditional family activities that people used to do were best after all.

Here's my take on the article:

1. The #1 predictor of a child's emotional well-being is knowing their family history. This is one of the reasons it is so important to have intact families and for children to live with and be raised by their married parents. Having a stable home with married parents gives children the family history and sense of belonging they need for their well-being.

2. Families need goals and to share these goals with their children. They need a mission statement - something they are all on board with and working toward. This brings families together and gives them a sense of purpose. Men are especially good at having overarching goals and working to achieve them, and that is one of the reasons we need men leading their families, not absent. It is especially important in Christian families for men to lead the family toward the goal of obeying and serving God.

3. Family meals together are very important. Not only is it a health issue (healthier food and slower eating), but the socialization of families eating and talking together is vital.

"A recent wave of research shows that children who eat dinner with their families are less likely to drink, smoke, do drugs, get pregnant, commit suicide, and develop eating disorders. Additional research found that children who enjoy family meals have larger vocabularies, better manners, healthier diets, and higher self-esteem. ...[T]he amount of time children spent eating meals at home was the single biggest predictor of better academic achievement and fewer behavioral problems."

Parents also get a chance at sit-down mealtimes to assess their children's health, behavior, and attitude and engage them in conversation on a wide variety of topics. This provides parents with information about their child's well-being, a connection to their children, and a pleasant way of imparting knowledge, among other things.

Monday, August 25, 2014

Need-Based vs. Value-Based Wages

I hear a lot of people advocating for a raise in the minimum wage (usually to $10 or $15 per hour) so that people can "make a living wage." Here is my response to that.

If you think we need a higher minimum wage to ensure that we take care of everyone's needs, you are advocating for wages to be paid based on need, not the value of their work. That sounds nice, but there are some serious problems with that view. For one, it's unfair. (Yes, I just used the code word of the liberals in favor of my conservative viewpoint. I love turning the tables like that.) Paying wages based on need is inherently and unavoidably unfair.

Let's use an example of two men doing exactly the same job at the same company. One is a married man with 3 children. The other is single with no children. Should the company pay the married man more than the single man, even though they do exactly the same work?

If you believe that people should be paid based on their need rather than the value of their work, then you must say that the married man should receive more pay for his work because his need is greater. Yet very few would agree that a married man should be paid more for the same work. We instinctively realize that it is unfair and unjust to pay two people differently for the same work.

Let’s go a bit further. If people should be paid based on their needs, then why not do away with a set wage altogether? Instead, employers should simply meet all the needs of all their employees in exchange for work. So, if an employee’s car breaks down, rather than pay for the repairs himself, he would turn in the bill to his employer. Likewise, all food bills, rent statements, utility bills, hospital bills, and all receipts for any need are paid or reimbursed by the employer in exchange for working at the company. That way, we can ensure that everyone can live on what they make. Of course, that also means that many employees will make much more than other people doing similar work. It also means that employees become, not masters of their own destiny, but more akin to slaves – being fed, housed, and clothed in exchange for working for the master. Is this what we want? It is if we think that wages should be based on need.

Instead of basing wages on need, a much better way is to base wages on the value of the work being done. In this view, a person who provides more value to the company should receive more pay while someone whose skills are less valuable receives less pay. This seems heartless on first glance, but actually has several advantages to both the company AND the worker.

The advantage to the company is obvious. Basing wages on the value of the work produces incentive for employees to do better quality work in order to receive better compensation. Plus, the burden of deciding what constitutes actual needs (as opposed to wants) is removed and the overhead involved in doling out welfare to all employees is gone. No one debates that paying for the value of the work is better for companies.

What many don’t realize is that a system where wages are based on the value of the work is actually better for employees.

For one thing, when compensation is based on need, it is nearly impossible to have anything more than the most basic needs met. No matter how hard you work in such a need-based system, you can’t get any more. The employer is only obligated to provide for your needs. If you want nicer things, you’re out of luck. No amount of harder work, increased skill, or better efficiency will get you more than the basics you need to survive.

What’s more, you can work your hardest and still get less than someone who doesn’t put in much effort, but has more need. This is tremendously disincentivizing and demoralizing. How can anyone have pride in their work when it doesn’t matter how hard they work? They will still get the same compensation as if they had barely done the minimum. And how depressing would it be to work very hard and have the guy at the next desk, who does practically nothing, getting the same or better than you. It’s simply not fair or right to pay different amounts for the same work or give the same pay for different amounts of work.

In a system where wages are based on the value of the work, a person can get ahead by working harder, developing new skills, or becoming more efficient. Their future is in their own hands. That is empowering. That gives people hope. It gives them reason to produce something of value that is useful to society because it is also useful to themselves personally.

Paying for the value of work rather than need gives people the opportunity to better themselves. It gives them incentive to do better and to have hope because they are masters of their own destiny, not slaves to a system.

A value-based system of wages is not only better for businesses and workers, but it is better for society as a whole. A society where everyone works to better themselves in order to provide more value, and thus earn a better wage, is a prosperous and thriving society. New inventions are made, new services offered, new businesses opened, new technology developed – all for the purpose of allowing individuals to better their lot in life. There is no incentive for developing these things in a need-based system. There is far more total production when everyone is working to provide more value in order to get more for themselves.

A system where people are paid based on need has no hope or future. A system where people are paid based on the value of their work is empowering to individuals and allows them to better themselves, provide for themselves and their families, and make their society more productive.

So, should we pay wages based on need or on the value of a person’s work? We can't have both.

If wages should be value-based, then we shouldn’t raise the minimum wage. We should allow individuals to be paid based on the value of their work. Those wishing to earn more must either work more hours or increase their skills. But they have that opportunity to decide for themselves and control their own destiny.

On the other hand, raising the minimum wage to a “living wage” simply means that those not providing enough value to be worth that minimum wage will have no jobs. It means cutting off hope for those of low skills who cannot make it into the job market. It means keeping a permanent underclass who have been priced out of jobs. It might sound compassionate to want to pay everyone enough to live on, but the results actually hurt those with poor job skills. And that isn’t good for anyone.

Friday, August 15, 2014

Raising Kids in the Country

This is a guest post from my amazing husband, Doug.

I recently read an article in the National Post (a Canadian paper) entitled, “Child labour or just chores? Debate rages after Saskatchewan bans kids from working on family farm."

Naturally, this incident raised a bit of debate about child labor, and whether or not government intervention was appropriate in cases like this. Fortunately, the government backed off somewhat after the case hit social media. In her defense and explanation, the mother, Janeen, made the observation that:

"Farm kids used to be in demand because they have amazing work ethic."

True statement. That's why Lindsay and I moved to the country soon after our first child was born. Not only are we going to home school our kids, we're going to give them just this sort of childhood where they will acquire a good work ethic, maturity, and a healthy dose of independence – and learn some useful skills while they're at it.

For most of my adult years, I wanted to live on a farm in the country, but I always put off making that move. Still, I told myself that as soon as I had kids, I was going to get out of the city because I really wanted to raise my kids on a farm where they could have the same sort of experience that I had growing up. I really believe that there is something about farm life that cannot be reproduced in the city, and that’s why Lindsay and I made it a priority to find a way to move to a small farm in the country when we started having kids.

Children do not learn confidence and self-esteem from being told they are special or smart over and over. They don’t learn it from getting participation trophies or playing games where no one wins or loses (so that no one gets hurt feelings). They don’t learn to be self-sufficient, hard-working, and strong by being soothed and coddled and flattered by everyone around them.

Children develop a real and lasting confidence when they have real, valuable skills and know that they can make a useful contribution. Children are happier and more confident in their own abilities when they actually have abilities to be confident about. False and empty praise doesn’t fool kids. They know whether they deserve praise or not. And while they will usually accept empty praise, when fed a steady diet of it, they tend to become dependent on others to uplift them rather than becoming self-sufficient and independent. When children have real skills and work to provide something of value (whether that’s as simple as carrying a hammer for daddy or as big as raising farm animals or building a fence on their own), they develop true confidence and a sense that they can take on whatever they set their mind to do.

On a farm, you have many such opportunities to build that sort of confidence and maturity. I recall a time when I was around ten years old that my dad took me and my two younger brothers with him around the farm fixing fence. On this occasion, we hiked well beyond our own property (which I knew quite well), and on to a neighboring farm which we rented. By mid-afternoon, we were well over into a remote area of woods that I had never seen before. Then, we ran out of fence wire. So Dad decided to hike back to our farm for more, and knowing he could travel faster alone, he left us there. After he was gone, my ten year old mind got to thinking, “What if something happened?” I was the oldest. Could I get my younger brothers and myself back home? I didn’t mention my concerns to them, but while they were exploring the woods, I mentally retraced our steps all along that fence we had been working on and convinced myself that it connected up with that of our own farm in an area that I knew I would recognize. So I came up with a plan to use it as a guide for getting us out of there if need be. That’s how independence and maturity get developed on the farm. You have to grow up, and take responsibility.

Of course, I could recount many other examples including hiking to the other end of our property to retrieve a tractor and drive it back to the house alone, and working alongside adults putting up hay, or under a truck or tractor working well into the night helping my dad get something running that really HAD to be running the next day. On a farm, you learn to contribute just like an adult, and you learn that your contributions are necessary and valuable. That gives a child incentive.

Working late into the night when you’re dead tired; hunting in the freezing cold when your fingers are so numb you can’t work a zipper; pitching hay in a barn loft when you’re parched, hot and sweaty; robbing bees when you really are afraid of being stung; and many more such real examples make a man out of a boy. These are the things which show a kid that he does have it in him to man up, especially when he is working alongside someone else who is enduring the exact same thing and still finds a way to get the job done. This is the sort of peer pressure that’s good for a kid. This is the sort of childhood that produced the sort of adults that made this country great and prosperous.

Certainly, one can raise responsible adults in the city, but based on my experience from living in both environments, I believe that farm life lends many more safe learning opportunities where children can learn independence and maturity. Notice, I said “safe” learning opportunities. Of course, you can turn your kids loose in the city and hope for the best, but that is not a safe environment for children to go unsupervised. I do not want my kids exposed to the sorts of things that they may be exposed to in the city. I don’t want them exposed to drugs, illicit sex, foul language, gangs, porn, etc. I don’t want them to hang with kids who are not mature and responsible, who are disrespectful of their parents, and so on. Children learn to mimic those they spend the most time with, and for my children, I do not want that to be the typical public school kid. Instead, I want them to grow up working alongside their mom and dad on projects that are important to our family farm.

Don’t misunderstand. I am certainly not overprotective. In fact, I do want my kids to know about drugs, gangs, illicit sex, porn, etc. I want them to know about them and what is wrong with them. I just do not want them exposed to these things in person. Furthermore, many of those who would level the “over-protective” charge at me would probably freak out when they learn that I plan to teach my kids to shoot and hunt at an early age (just as my dad and grandpa taught me). Many people might consider that reckless, but I consider it reckless to turn your kids loose in a typical public high school.

My goal is not to raise children. My goal is to raise adults – well adjusted, confident, independent, responsible, and capable adults who have an impeccable moral character and healthy work ethic; intelligent adults who have a good understanding of inalienable rights (and the source thereof), the proper role of civil government, a good comprehension of Biblical apologetics and Bible doctrine. These are the sort of adults that Lindsay and I wish to raise on our little farm in the country.


Monday, August 4, 2014

Should We Avoid "Controversial" Topics?

Have you ever had a conversation with someone about some topic, maybe a Bible doctrine or a political topic or a moral position, and they dismissed your argument by saying that the topic is “controversial?” I have. Lots of times. Apparently, pointing out that something is controversial is supposed to mean that nobody knows the answer, or maybe that there isn’t a right answer at all, and thus everyone should just be quiet about it. If they can’t be quiet, they should at least avoiding taking a strong stance on it one way or the other. After all, it’s controversial.

But is it really true that controversial things don’t have a clear right answer? Not necessarily.

Controversy: strong disagreement about something among a large group of people

Controversial: relating to or causing much discussion, disagreement, or argument

According to these definitions, a controversial topic is simply one on which many people disagree. In some cases, this may be due to the topic being merely opinion. If you are asking which ice cream flavor is the best or which sports car is the best or which season of the year is the best, these are all matters of opinion and there is no right answer. There is no absolute truth in these cases because the inherent question is about what people prefer. Different people prefer different things.

But in spite of the fact that there is a lot of disagreement on the best ice cream flavor (vanilla, in case anyone was wondering), we don’t usually try to shut people up when they express an opinion, even if it differs from ours. And we usually don’t call these opinions “controversial.” In fact, I have never heard anyone refer to ice cream flavors as a controversial issue. (What a conversation that would be. “I like vanilla best.” “Oh, don’t talk about ice cream flavors because they’re so controversial.”)

When people talk about something being “controversial” they usually do it when it’s not just a matter of opinion, but they want to believe it is. They want to use the disagreement out there to avoid taking a side on an important topic.

Sometimes they don’t want to take a side because it’s unpopular. If they take a side, the people on the other side might not like them.

Sometimes they don’t want to have to put the effort into studying the issue. Laziness makes them avoid finding out which position is the correct one.

Sometimes they don’t like the implications involved in taking a position. What if believing one way or the other means they have to change something about their life? Perhaps give up something they enjoy or do something they don't like?

Sometimes they have the mistaken idea that a “controversial” topic doesn’t have a correct answer and thus neither side should be dogmatic.

Some see taking a side on something that evokes a lot of disagreement as somehow “divisive” or “polarizing” and therefore bad.

Whatever the reason, these people want to stay “neutral” and not take a side. And, often, they don’t want to hear anyone else’s position on the matter either.

The problem is, some things that are labelled “controversial” are very important and have distinct right and wrong sides. Just because a lot of people disagree about it doesn’t mean there is no right answer.

Let me give an example. In the years preceding the Civil War in the US, slavery was a very controversial issue. Roughly half of the country believed it was acceptable while the other half believed it was not. It doesn’t get a lot more “controversial” than that. Not only were there radically differing positions, but they divided communities, families, and ultimately, a country. People took up arms to kill each other over this issue. That’s a very heated controversy indeed. But surely no one today would claim that the issue of slavery should have been ignored or that there was no correct side. Slavery was one of the most systematic violations of human rights in the history of this country – a black mark against us that we may never live down. There most certainly was a right side. Those who stood for abolishing slavery were right while those who wanted it to remain were in the wrong. Broad disagreement does not mean that neither side is correct. It may mean that many are wrong, but it does not mean that no one is right.

In today’s world, there are many issues that receive the “controversial” label that are actually issues of great importance and should not be ignored. One of the most important of these is abortion. While legal abortion is most definitely “controversial” – with many people on both sides of the issues who hold their position ardently and vocally – this issue does have right and wrong sides. There is no right to kill an innocent human child in the womb, regardless of the many who believe strongly that there is. Strong belief does not make something so.

Of course, there are many other issues that also evoke strong disagreement and yet contain a right and wrong side. Political issues, theology, morality, religions in general – these things are among the most hotly contested areas of human thought. Yet to suppose that there is no right answer in these areas is to greatly misunderstand the nature of man and the nature of truth. Having disagreement on these topics means just that – disagreement – and nothing more. It says absolutely nothing about the truth in such cases.

So, while there's nothing wrong with noting that something is controversial, one cannot logically conclude that controversial topics have no right answer or that they should be avoided. Sometimes controversial things are just issues on which a lot of people are confused. But how many people believe something has nothing to do with whether or not it is true. Controversy may prove that many people are wrong about a topic, but it doesn’t prove that no one is right.

Next time someone dismisses your position as being "controversial," as if that means that you can't be right or should not take a stand on it, point out that controversy just means people disagree. It doesn't have anything to do with whether or not one side is right or whether that issue is important or whether or not people should take a stand for it. Controversial topics are not inherently bad to talk about and we need to reject the idea that they are. After all, we need more people to take a stand for what's right on important issues, not more people silenced.



Thursday, July 31, 2014

A Marriage is Like a House

In my last post, I explained the importance of women as supporters of their husbands and in caring for the home and children. To explain the roles of husband and wife further, here is an analogy.


Image courtesy of http://bestclipartblog.com
A marriage is like a house. The wife is the walls and the husband is the roof. Which one is more important? Neither. A house without a roof is useless. A house without walls isn’t a house. They are equally important. Both are necessary to the design and each has their role in creating the house and in making it effective at its purpose. But their roles are not the same.

The husband is like the roof because the primary purpose of a house is to have “a roof over your head.” There’s a reason people use that saying. In the same way, it is the husband’s responsibility to set the overall goal or purpose for the family and carry it out.

A roof is also necessary for protection from wind and rain and falling objects. In the same way, a husband’s role is that of protector for his family. His job is to keep outside forces that may harm his family – whether physically or spiritually – away from his wife and children.

The wife is like the walls. The primary purpose of the walls is to hold up the roof. In the same way, a wife’s primary role is to support her husband. Without the support of the walls, the roof will collapse and fail to provide protection. A roof that is not supported cannot carry out the purpose of the house. Similarly, the wife needs to support her husband so that he can carry out the goals of the family.

A wife is also like the walls of a house because intact walls are necessary to having a warm and inviting home. If one were to have a roof barely supported by pillars, but with no intact walls, it would be very cold and comfortless. A wife in the home is necessary to having the kind of environment that is inviting, warm, and allows a husband to recharge his energy for completing his tasks.

So while husbands and wives do not have the same roles, they are equally necessary. In a good marriage, a husband and wife use their different strengths to work together for the purpose of building a home that is strong, intact, and effective at its purpose.


Wednesday, July 30, 2014

The Vital Importance of a Wife and Mother at Home

I’ve been getting a lot of questions about my views on marriage and family and women working outside the home and whether women are supposed to support their husbands rather than having their own goals and careers. Here are my thoughts on the matter.

In general, I think women are called to be a supporter to their husband's calling. But that does not mean that their contribution is less important. God sees a husband and wife as a team, a single unit. So a husband's calling is the wife’s calling because the two of them are one.

We live in a culture that sees us primarily as individuals who simply make associations with each other. Marriage is generally seen as just a partnership between two separate people. The Christian view of marriage, however, is radically different. The Bible says that the two become one. Not two that have a connection, but one. God doesn't give separate overall missions to each individual person. There is only one overall calling for that one marriage entity. A husband and wife are a family and have a calling together, but the husband bears the primary responsibility for fulfilling that mission while the wife bears the primary responsibility for supporting her husband's work toward the family’s calling.

That is what it means, for example, that the husband is the spiritual head or leader of the family. A husband will answer to God for the spiritual health of his family in a way that the wife will not because it is the man's primary responsibility. His calling, above all, is to lead his family to know and serve God. Other parts of his mission may involve outreach beyond his family such as missions work, serving in the church, witnessing to coworkers, etc., but his primary responsibility before God is to lead his own family and ensure their spiritual health. A wife's primary responsibility in this area is to support her husband's leadership to ensure that chaos does not derail their family's spiritual journey and that her husband has the time and energy to devote to spiritual leadership because he isn't distracted by other minor concerns.

The story comes to mind of Acts 6 and the choosing of deacons to take care of details like feeding the needy so that the apostles could concentrate on preaching and teaching. This kind of hierarchy is found throughout life, not just in marriage. It’s not about inferiority, it’s about efficiency in fulfilling a purpose. It was the deacons' role to handle logistics so that the apostles could spend their time pursuing the main mission of preaching the word and saving souls. In the same way, it is a wife's role to handle logistics of the home so that her husband can concentrate his energy on pursuing the family's main mission for God.

The other thing to consider is that the responsibility for providing for the family is given primarily to the man. It simply isn’t the wife’s responsibility in the same way it is for the husband. Not only are men given the responsibility of spiritual leadership, but they also must provide for their family’s economic needs. In both cases, men will answer to God for how they do so. Providing is a heavy burden given to a man. It requires much time and effort. It is a great support to the husband when the wife takes care of the logistical details of the household so that the husband can devote his efforts to providing and the spiritual training of the children and then, if energy is left, to outside endeavors to further the Kingdom of God.

Now, can a woman handle the logistics of the home, ensure her family is cared for, and still work outside the home? Perhaps, in some cases – especially if they do not yet have children. But no woman is Superwoman. We all have limitations. It's just not possible for any woman to adequately care for children and home while holding down a full time job. The care of children and the home is primarily a woman's responsibility in a way it isn't for her husband. If there are no children, it may be possible for her to care for the home and her husband and still keep a job outside the home, but she must keep the home and her husband as her priority.

Once children arrive, it becomes pretty much impossible for her to work outside the home and still fulfill her duties at home. The funny thing about children is that they need constant care. One cannot care for children and work outside the home too. The choice once children come along is whether to outsource the care of the children to someone else or to do it yourself. I firmly believe that God entrusts children to a husband and wife because he wants them to be the primary influences in their children's lives. That doesn’t happen if the children spend a majority of their waking hours in the care of someone else.

Children don’t just need food and shelter provided to them, they need love, teaching, discipline, a sense of security, and examples of how they are to live. All of those things are best done when the child spends time primarily with his or her parents. Daycare workers, school teachers, and even grandparents simply cannot provide them in the same way parents can. No one loves a child like his own parents do. No one has such a vested interest in ensuring that he grows up with the proper spiritual and moral training. Even if others care about the child, the responsibility for the training of a child belongs to his parents. Daycare workers and teachers and grandparents won’t answer to God for the soul of that child. His parents will.

So, given the needs of children, I am convinced that women are called to be with their children, training and caring for them as their primary caregiver. Does that mean a mother can’t have any job outside the home? In theory, no. In practice, yes. A woman’s priority must be her own family. If she can have her children with her or leave them for only a short time each day, she may still be able to provide the necessary training and care they need from their mother and earn some income. But in doing that, she needs to be sure she is not neglecting her husband’s needs either. Theoretically, a woman can have it all – keeping a job and caring for her family too. The problem is that it is a very rare woman who has the energy to keep up with the constant needs of her children for care, training, discipline, and love and those of her husband for companionship, sex, and a partner in life as well as the logistics of running a household and still have something left for even a part-time job.

What usually happens when a woman has an outside job is that her family simply suffers the lack. Either her children spend a lot of time with other caregivers or teachers or her husband does without the companionship and marital intimacy he needs or some of the household chores descend on the husband, taking away some of his time and energy to train his children spiritually and impact the world for Christ. Often it’s a combination of these. A woman simply cannot meet all the needs of her family when she is spread that thin and, as a result, something important gets left undone.

Of course, there are circumstances where it is necessary for a family’s survival for the wife to work outside the home. That is not the ideal, but it sometimes happens. In that case, the goal should be to do whatever is necessary to make it a temporary situation so that the wife can return to the home and children and be available to meet her husband’s need as well. If that means downgrading the house, foregoing vacations, having the husband take a second job or a better paying job, having the wife work from home, or whatever, the goal should be to work towards having the wife available to fulfill her responsibilities at home. It is vital to the health of her family – both physically and spiritually. There is no replacement for a wife and mother. The family will never be as effective for the Kingdom of God as it could be if the wife is not at home, taking care of her family.


Tuesday, July 29, 2014

The Art of Writing Love Notes


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One of the little things a wife can do to build up her husband is to tell him how much she appreciates him. Words of Affirmation is one of the 5 love languages. Whether or not this particular love language is the primary one through which a person communicates, everyone needs to hear that they are loved and respected. This is especially true in a marriage.

Knowing that I love and respect him is very important to my husband. When we were dating, Doug and I lived about an hour and half apart so much of our communication occurred on the phone and by email. Being able to communicate what we were thinking and feeling in writing was important to the development of our relationship. We got pretty good at having discussions and sending love letters to each other by email during the week. Now that we’re married, we don’t send emails as often since we talk every day, but we do make it a point to tell each other what we appreciate about each other on a regular basis. This has become a habit that we purposely cultivated in order to help keep us close. We also take time every once in a while to write out how we feel about each other, to formalize our love and respect for each other. In some cases, it’s an email. In some cases, it’s a homemade card or a little note in my husband’s lunch. But it is always designed to remind the other person how much they are loved and appreciated.

The art of writing love notes isn’t at all hard to cultivate. It just takes a little effort and creativity. Here are some tips on making love notes memorable. I have written them from a wife’s perspective, but the ideas can be used just as easily by husbands to their wives.

Be creative
Creativity in a love note says that you took the time to think about the other person. There’s nothing wrong with a pre-written message on a card, but it isn’t your thoughts or words. A personal note means so much more.

Also, if at all possible, avoid clichés and common phrases. Don't try to make it sound like a greeting card. At the same time, don't worry too much about sounding corny or sappy. Just be yourself. Use your own thoughts and wording to make the note truly a message from your heart.

Say “I love you”
This one should be obvious and can work for even the briefest of notes. It should probably be included in every love note. However, because it is so obvious, it can sometimes sound stale when used alone. There are lots of variations that can make it stand out:

I love you, my darling husband.
I love my handsome man.
I love you for always.
My love for you will never die.
I love you more every day.
My heart beats with love only for you.
Don’t ever forget how much I love you.

These types of variations are much more descriptive and emotional and can help set the mood for the note.

Point out specific things that you appreciate
This one is a must, both in written notes and in everyday conversation. Taking the time to appreciate good points about your husband can mean the world to him. These statements usually begin as “I like it when…” or “I appreciate your…”

I love the way you play with our children.
I like your smile and the way it lights up your eyes.
I appreciate you taking out the trash so that I don’t have to.
I like it when you put your arms around me.
Your hard work in providing for our family is greatly appreciated.
I appreciate your honesty and your willingness to work out problems.
I love it when you are protective of me.
I like the way you take time to listen to me.
I love the way you make me feel when you tell me I’m beautiful.

Use terms of endearment
Using pet names or other terms of endearment can make a love note personal and special. If your husband doesn’t like the mushy ones that sound like baby talk, try some of these: 

Hero (every man wants to be a hero to his wife)
Darling
My man
Hunk
Prince Charming
Stud
My protector

Men tend to like terms of endearment that make them sound masculine.

Use lots of descriptive words
Descriptive words make a ho-hum note into a special one. Use a variety of different words to describe the way you feel about him, his characteristics that you appreciate, etc. Use words like these frequently: 

Thoughtful
Hard-working
Handsome
Supportive
Intelligent
Wonderful
Kind
Loving
Strong
Protective
Loyal 

Compliment your husband with words that describe his good characteristics. Let him know you’re his biggest fan. This helps build him up and also helps to focus your attention on his strengths as well, making it easier for you to appreciate him.

Flirt a little
A little flirtation is an important addition to any love note between husbands and wives. Tell him how much you like him to pursue you. Add a little spice with some innuendo or hints. Your husband needs to know that you value the physical side of your relationship with him. You aren’t just friends, you’re lovers as well. It doesn’t have to be graphic (especially if you can’t be sure he’ll be the only one to see it), but telling him you like his touch on your skin or can’t get enough of his kisses lets him know that you appreciate him as your mate. 

These tips are things that I’ve found useful in writing love notes to my husband. It doesn’t take a lot of time to write a short note that lets your husband know how you feel about him and it can help keep your marriage strong. If you’ve never done it, try it.