The journey of being set apart for His purposes...

Thinking Beyond a Book…

Summer time is approaching and that can only mean one thing…  Parent Practicum season is here!

Homeschooling is a journey that takes vision and careful planning. Check your bearings and plan the best route for your family at Classical Conversations’ free 3-day Parent Practicums.

Join me, or any one of this year’s practicum speakers, as we explore practical tools for bringing breadth and depth to your family’s learning. Discover how the classical model takes education beyond a textbook for relational and transformational learning.

CiRCE Institute founder, Andrew Kern, visits in select cities via a multimedia presentation to share his heart for education that reclaims the whole student, challenging educators everywhere to adjust their thinking.

Economically-priced Care & Camps for Kids…While you are learning, your students will be too! Whether they are being cared for in our nursery, playing and chanting in our play camps, memorizing and drawing God’s world in our geo-drawing camp, or learning more about language, writing, science, or communicating in one of our older academic camps, your students are sure to enjoy the group learning environment.

Visit Classical Conversations’ Event Calendar and register for one of these exciting and equipping events today! click here >

Sanctification Calls for Questions

(Part of Sanctified Sections post series and Streets of Sanctification label)

During this season of my life, many of my sanctification moments involve my immediate family – my husband and children. My sanctification and theirs is being lived out day to day, week to week, and year to year! The good, the bad and the ugly – if you will.

One morning this past week, I was jolted to full alertness by my two favorite sons arguing in the kitchen over which food resources should be consumed and by whom. (Scarcity of food resources in a house with young, growing men is a constant real and present danger!)

“You took the last two tortillas!” accused the authoritative, firstborn, fourteen-year-old son. “You should have eaten the whole wheat bread!” With a tone of injustice and exasperation, the oldest son brings his plight to his mother, who is not the sharpest (or most sanctified) judge and juror before 9:00am. But none-the-less, sanctification never sleeps, (at least not past 9:00am!) and I am once again summoned to direct the traffic for these two budding, often bull-dozing, boys.

The first to present their case seems just, until another comes along and examines him. (Prov 18:17)

The youngest son, Caleb, often feeling to be the victim of such barrages of the high expectations from his older brother, rather dumb founded demands, “Daniel, leave me alone! I didn’t do anything wrong! You always get on to me!”

When clarity and hidden-heart agendas need to be revealed, there is a model Jesus provided. One he used over and over again. One I seek to feebly follow in our own home.

Delaying dealing with my youngest’s tone and sweeping statement, a question arises in my mind. Unclear as to why my oldest son was pushing the whole wheat bread, I asked some key questions. This brings me to my first practical principle in sanctification.iStock_think_Small

Sanctification Principle #1:

Ask questions and get THEM thinking!

Questions engage the mind and reveal thinking.  Jesus modeled this throughout His interactions with different people. His purpose was often to sift to the surface the heart and the understanding of the person he was engaging.

 Caution: Too often as parents, we continue do all the thinking for our older children.

Through a series of questions, it is revealed my oldest partiality toward the tortillas and his lack of fondness for whole wheat bread. Upon this revelation, we determine -  together – he should not have taken a reprimanding demeanor with his younger brother which began the disgruntled detour. Reconciliation (a practical process put firmly in place in our home from the time my oldest was two) was sought with his brother, both apologized for their reactive words, attitudes and tones. Sanctification continues – relationships strengthened, bitterness abated, humility displayed, grace given – after all, He is the potter and we are the clay. The streets of sanctification are once again relatively relationally liter-free.

Weighty considerations as we journey down the streets of sanctification…

This takes TIME, LISTENING and asking QUESTIONS! Much harder than giving a command and demanding compliance, which most appropriately characterizes parenting in the child’s younger years (or the inverse mindset of leaving the children to themselves to find looking-to-the-interest-of-others, god-honoring wisdom.) As the child grows self-revelation is much more powerful and lasting than the revelation by others to the child – questions help sift self-revelation to the surface.  Are we willing to invest at this level? We choose. This is a toll road. There is only a PAY NOW or PAY LATER option, because either way, we will pass through the toll booth. Pay now is proactive, pay later is reactive and tends to be much messier. Both are costly in time and energy, however one way tends to be much more harmonious, the other way much less.

Have you found this out the hard way? In some areas of my sanctification journey I sure have! My biggest struggle has been to have tools to help me be proactive. As a parent, this took genuine humility on my part, because that meant I didn’t have all the answers much less tools to help me. I don’t even think I had any answers, mostly because I didn’t have a vision for intentional parenting founded on His word and ways. Rather, I had lots of “man’s wisdom” – from my own secular upbringing, my third parent – the TV, ideas influenced by romance books and mindless music. Yikes! The only thing I can say is that when my oldest was two years old, I became keenly aware that I didn’t know where I was going with these new family additions!  I hit a roadblock on the streets of sanctification.

So what do I do when I need help? Is there a street sign with instruction in His word, on what to do when we need help? Yes!! Call on the Lord, seek Him, seek Him with all our heart is what His word says. So I clung to Jeremiah 9:23-24, Jer 33:3, Prov 3:5-6,  and other scriptures that revealed this “seeking and finding” principle to me and the journey began…

So roadblocks require genuine humility and a few tools in order to overcome and  journey forward. I say tools and not techniques. Techniques tend to cage our thinking  into a system or formula, which, when divorced from foundational understanding, are dangerous and inappropriate when it finds its application in people and relationships. Rather, we need tools which provide an image of a master tradesman with understanding utilizing a tool to accomplish a purpose.

Do you and I know our purpose as parents? Do we seek to understand our influence, stewardship, responsibility? I am afraid too often we do not. Rather than seeking sanctification in our parental thinking, we seek the path of least resistance or the path of least patience… and we settle. We settle for what the current culture says, and yes, even what some short-sighted church leaders and “church-goers” say.

One of the primary tools we need is good questions!

Good questions are by nature, engaging and relational. Without good questions, we are merely having “parallel monologues”, as I have heard my friend, Andrew Kern, say. Conversations without connections don’t strengthen relationships – with God or with others. So let’s see where we can go to find some models of good questions, then we’ll work on some principles of purpose and listening.

More probing ideas to come…

Uncomfortable? You bet, that is sanctification’s way. With the perpetual flow of seemingly prickly people in our lives as well as our own ample portions of porcupine-ness, sanctification finds its transforming abode.

Sanctified Sections

Years ago, I was introduced to a book that would irrevocably alter my warped, worldly thinking and set me on a new path to appropriate my identity according to God’s Word. That book was The Common Made Holy by Neil Anderson and the Freedom in Christ Ministry. A book that opened my eyes and heart to the idea of sanctification on a very practical level. A book that I recently picked up, reminded me of an important principle found in Anderson’s book.

The importance of relationships in our sanctification process. The Lord uses relationships with others to sanctify US!

Ohhh! So that’s why relationships can be so difficult – they touch areas that we would prefer remain untouched! YES! Some relationships more than others seem to touch such areas. And some relationship-seasons (husband-wife, parent-child, friend-friend, employer-employee, etc…), are more challenging than others at different times.

clayjar

While we have a tendency to (more comfortably) focus on the OTHER person’s need for sanctification during a difficulty, we must be careful to follow the command to work out our OWN salvation, or sanctification, with fear and trembling. The principle and application of “the log and the speck” has transformative power – personal transformation and relational transformation. Sounds difficult but desirable, yes? Yet many of us settle for the paralysis created by neatly placing blame and guilt on the other party, ignoring our own participation and contribution to an often relationally polarizing process.

So let’s first look at the WHY question. Why do many of us have a tendency to solely settle for seeing others as the incessant thorn in our side and ourselves as victims? This is a big question and the answer requires expanding our thinking, which translates into exposure to ideas based on higher and deeper principles than those we may be currently operating under.

Where would I search for such principles? Among mere men and their wisdom? Perhaps as a starting point or a bridge to a greater source. Years ago, as a teenage atheist, I lived according to man’s wisdom and the wisdom the world valued. What was my primary source? Well… General Hospital, of course! Actually, GH was just one of many. I would now blush at the books, music, magazines, TV shows, and movies that shaped my futile and foggy thinking in those days. The results and consequences are not appropriate to share here, however, it was through these that a search began, a decision was made, and a line was drawn. My greater source was Him and my primary source of truth was to be God’s Word from that day forward.

Bible Watch and Keys on a Grunge Background

So here is a perhaps new sanctification idea, drawn by men from God’s word, that I have found worthy to ponder on my own journey in the fertile fields of relationships.

For lack of a more creative term I will call this grid … Sanctification Sections and over a few blog posts, I hope the idea will take a firmer shape in your mind and heart.

HeartCheck

Place this four-section table over your own heart – thinking of what you know or see about your OWN heart.

  What others see/know What others do NOT see/know
What I see/know… Best Section
contains what I know and allow others to see about me. I share what I know to be the BEST about me with others.
Behind-the-Scenes section
secret part of my life –
* positive (specific acts and disciplines that cultivate a strong and healthy Christian life) 
* negative (sin, struggles, thoughts, fleshly weaknesses not shared or trusted to others)
What I do NOT see/know Blind Section
Yikes! Others can see things about me I am BLIND to (pride, self-reliance, consequences of media choices, etc)… BUT with safe, mature counselors, I humbly allow these areas to be brought to my conscience to be transformed & sanctified.
Buried Section
Again, there are things I don’t know about my own heart, and others don’t either – degrees of pride, selfishness, self-reliance, tendency to spiritualize, denial, hiding, blaming, …
Sanctification seeks to reduce this “section” too!

Table adapted from Listening for Heaven’s Sake.

Can these ideas help your family along sanctification’s way? It sure has mine! Does this help provide a framework for a dialog of truth and grace? I am working on it!

So the question NOW becomes a HOW question. How do you and I move from our comfortable habit of neatly tying up all relational distress as due to the other person, to soberly and accurately allowing the Lord to poke around in our own hearts?

There are cautions and considerations as we learn How. Let’s unpack these ideas a bit… more in blog posts to come.

Wise Parents Wrestle…

Today produced yet another enlightening discussion with friends and fellow forerunners in the Christian-parenting journey. Personal struggles in passing along the live-giving ideas and principles wrapped up in a life based on truth as defined by the One who claimed to be the Way, the Truth and the Life.

The communication and cultivation of these life-giving and life-altering truths to the next generation, in a world preoccupied with its own passing beauty, is appropriately marked by struggle – a wrestling if you will.  After all,  where there is no wrestling – no struggle – inherent weakness and frailty remain unrevealed.  A result no loving parent would intentionally wish to cultivate yet statistics bear an alarming frailty among young people emerging from “Christian” homes.

Wise parents therefore welcome the wrestling and do not settle for the short-sighted temptation to exasperate our young adults by means of forcing mere external obedience while refusing to engage their young minds and hearts through relevant encounters of principles and ideas from scripture. While we, as parents, are often already resolved on such ideas and principles, we often forget how we arrived at such resolutions. Many resolutions have been made through our own struggles with truth and “truth” (and others through amiable acquiesce or clinging to a certain form or tradition, but that is a subject best left for another blog post). The next generation must be afforded the same opportunity, the same right to test His ways and truths against the world’s “ways” and “truths”. The Way, the Truth and the Life is more than up to the task, even if we parents are not! Remember, He dealt with us, didn’t He?

Is such wrestling permitted and promoted within the arena of your home, my home? The days of parenting by authority alone were appropriate when our children were young and their capacity to understand and reason required consistent external governance, correction and intervention. However, in healthy, and I would argue Biblical, parenting of the human soul, this external governance must give way to internal governance upon which the work of His spirit must be fully relied upon for all application and wisdom on the parents part and the budding youth’s heart.

Consequently, if we parents continue to rely more upon our own strength by exerting our unilateral authority to its fullest extent in all matters on behalf of these young adults, this internal governance in our youth remains neglected, and as a result, it is profoundly retarded. Producing what kind of adult? At best, an adult that is conditioned to be controlled and cared for by other humans with an identity grounded in human elements and efforts. In the end, both parent and youth resent this regretful result.

The human soul innately knows it was designed for a greater governance, a governance that does not produce slavery to a human element, but a governance that paradoxically produces freedom from human frailties of self and others. Producing a freedom to love and serve from the heart. With a transcendent identity characterized by an attractive and unassuming authority that stems from the internal governance of His spirit. This is the appropriate and fruitful governance the human soul was designed to find its fullest satisfaction.

My spirit is vexed in this sober undertaking. What parent is able to labor in a worthy manner under such weighty matters? Hope abounds because of His provision. For whom He has granted precious and magnificent promises through which, when apprehended and appropriated by His grace, we wrestle with Him who bestows strength, blessing, understanding, and wisdom.

May we wrestle with Him, so that we may have personal strength to pass to our youth in their time of wrestling.