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Homeschool Blindspots

If you like to think that homeschooling is a failsafe method for producing fabulous kids, or that homeschooling parents are immune to blunders, then you won't want to click the link at the end of this paragraph. But if you want to learn from a longtime homeschooler about some of the most common pitfalls that he found in other homeschoolers and in his own family, then read on. It may be painful reading for some, but it might also be liberating. Click to read Reb Bradley's Homeschool Blindspots.

Meditation

Many people have Bibles. Few people benefit from their Bible as much as they could. If you own a Bible but don’t read it, the Bible won’t help you much. And even if you read your Bible each day, you will miss many benefits if you don’t meditate on what you read. Thomas Watson, a wise Christian from centuries past, wrote,  “The reason we come away so cold from reading the Word is because we do not warm ourselves at the fire of meditation.”

To meditate means to dwell upon, to keep thinking about, to run something through your mind over and over. Not everybody meditates on Scripture, but everybody meditates on something. As one author put it, “If you know how to worry, you already know how to meditate.” If you’re not meditating by dwelling on a problem and worrying about it, you still meditate on something. It may be football, ice skating, finances, hairstyle, a boyfriend, a movie character, politics, or something else. Whenever you think about something over and over, you are meditating.

Donald Whitney defines biblical meditation as “deep thinking on the truths and spiritual realities revealed in Scripture for the purposes of understanding, application, and prayer.” Each day, as you read the Bible, take time to focus on a particular sentence or section of Scripture.  Repeat it to yourself. Take some time to absorb it. Ask God how it applies to you. This will help God’s Word to sink in, and it will deepen your sense of God’s involvement in your life. As you meditate on the Bible, the Spirit shows applications to life events, and Christ enters more deeply into your life. Likewise, as you meditate on your life events, the Spirit will bring Bible truths to mind, and you will enter more deeply into Christ’s life.

Meditation is one measure of our love for God. Thomas Watson wrote, “The first fruit of love is the musing of the mind upon God. He who is in love, his thoughts are ever upon the object. He who loves God is ravished and transported with the contemplation of God. God is the treasure, and where the treasure is, there is the heart. By this we may test our love to God. What are our thoughts most upon? Do we contemplate Christ and glory? Oh, how far are they from being lovers of God, who scarcely ever think of God!”

I have a long way to go in my love of God and in meditation, but I have tasted enough benefits of meditation to vouch for its value. Throughout the centuries, friends of God have embraced meditation and grown closer to God through it. I pray that meditation will be a growing part of your walk with God. Let these words become yours: “I will ponder all your work, and meditate on your mighty deeds.” (Psalm 77:12) “I have stored up your word in my heart… I will meditate on your wondrous works… your testimonies are my meditation. My eyes are awake before the watches of the night, that I may meditate on your promise.” (Psalm 119)

Setting dates for Jesus' return

Back in the 1980s someone wrote a book titled 88 Reasons Why the Rapture Will be in 1988. Apparently those 88 reasons didn’t persuade the Lord. 1988 came and went. For awhile the book sold like crazy, but nobody buys it anymore.

Someone else predicted Jesus would come for his people in the 1990s. Harold Camping, head of the Family Radio network of stations, wrote a book titled 1994 and said that Jesus would almost certainly come in October of 1994. When October of 1994 came and went, did Harold Camping admit he was dead wrong and repent of his bad prediction? No, he simply adjusted his views to say that we had arrived not at the end of the world but the end of the church. True followers of Jesus would endanger their souls if they stayed in churches. There should be no more baptism, Lord’s Supper, elders, or pastors. All true Christians must flee organized churches and form their own little groups that would no longer call themselves churches. Meanwhile, true believers should continue listening to Family Radio and keep sending money there. Camping set a new date and exact time for Jesus' return which was absolutely, positively, unmistakably taught in the Bible: 6 p.m. on May 21, 2011. Camping spent millions of donor dollars advertising the date. As I look around on this evening of May 21, 2011, I see only a quiet, lovely sunset.

Another person who made precise predictions was Charles Taze Russell. Russell was certain Jesus would come in 1914, and when it didn’t happen, Russell explained that Jesus really had returned, but he had done so invisibly. Later he would come visibly. Russell broke with historic Christian teachings to start a group which became known as Jehovah's Witnesses. Russell's successor as head of the Jehovah's Witnesses' Watchtower Society was Joseph Rutherford. He said, "Millions now living will never die" and predicted 1925 would be the year the world would end. However, 1925 passed uneventfully, and Rutherford died in 1943.

There have been many attempts to set a timetable for Jesus’ coming, and they've all been wrong. To some people, the failed predictions are proof that they don’t need to take Jesus’ return seriously at all. However, bad predictions don't prove Jesus wrong. They prove him right. Jesus said plainly, "You do not know on what day your Lord will come" (Matthew 24:42). "It is not for you to know the times or dates the Father has set by his own authority" (Acts 1:7). The only way anyone could be right about the exact date of the second coming is if Jesus himself turned out to be wrong.

Fathers Who Provide

Is a father responsible to provide for his family? When people ask me this question, sometimes they really mean to ask: Does God want the man of the family to earn the main income and the wife to remain home with the children? But the two questions are not identical.

I think a man has primary responsibility to provide for his wife and family, but providing involves more than just income, and having ultimate responsibility does not necessarily mean that the one responsible does all the tasks himself.

A man is responsible to provide a context where Christ is central, where love reigns, and where he is the first to sacrifice for the wellbeing of his wife and children (Ephesians 5:21-33). A man is responsible to provide ongoing instruction in God's Word to his wife (1 Cor 14:35) and children (Deut 6:4-9, Eph. 6:4). A man, as head of his wife, is responsible to provide leadership and set a godly tone for everyone in the family. And yes, as head a man is responsible to provide for his family's financial and material needs, and when possible to generate additional income to help others in need (Psalm 112:9), especially widows who are related to him (1 Tim 5:8).

In these responsibilities to provide, the man has a suitable helper in his wife. She can do a lot. He is not required to perform every task himself. Various elements of provision may be delegated to her to some degree, if she is willing and able. For instance, in educating the children, he may delegate much teaching to his wife, though he would be foolish and disobedient if he avoided any active role in teaching God's Word to his children. In providing leadership and decisiveness, he should seek his wife's counsel before making major decisions for the family, and may have such confidence in her (Prov 31:11) that he delegates various everyday decisions and tasks to her. Such delegation should not be an excuse for sloth or lack of leadership on his part; rather, it is a result of the oneness with his wife and of their godly partnership. I certainly don't try to micromanage my wise and gifted wife.

In the matter of financial provision, I don't think there's an absolute biblical requirement for how to go about it, but I do think that in many cases where it's necessary for someone to work outside the home and another to stay with children, the man will be more inclined to seek a job and the woman more inclined to care for young children. Even so, in some cases a woman has far more earning power, and a man (especially if he has sons of a particular age) might think it best to spend extra time teaching his sons while his wife earns a large paycheck. The husband/father has final responsibility for his home and the allocation of tasks within it; that's part of his role as head. He should take full account of his wife's feminine nature and her personal preferences in deciding who should do what.

Before the Industrial Revolution of the mid-1800s, the home was often the base for making a living, whether in farming or as shopkeepers or craftsmen. Husband, wife, and children spent much time together, and all worked together in making a living. Husbands were involved in daily affairs at home. Wives were involved in economic activity. The Industrial Revolution split work life away from home life. Most husbands went away to work; many women stayed at home if they could.

This division of labor became enshrined as biblical in the minds of some Christians. Given the choices available, it may often be best for the man to work and the woman to stay home, but that is more a matter of prudence than obedience to the Word of God. After all, the Bible is much more clear in telling a father to teach his children than in saying that the man must be the main wage-earner.

As New Covenant believers, we are not to over-legislate fellow Christians or ourselves. We are to walk in the freedom of the Spirit, drawing on God's wisdom, attentive to the Lord's presence within, and obeying his direct commands in Scripture. However, we are not to regulate in areas where the Scripture and the Spirit grant freedom to improvise and to do what seems best in a given situation.

Yes, fathers should provide and lead--and in many more ways than income. No, the Bible does not require that the man always be the main wage earner and the woman always be the main caretaker of children. Husband and wife, united as partners in Christ, can together discern how best to apply God's Word in their particular situation with their particular personalities and abilities.

Daily Worship

When I was growing up, my parents led us in daily worship at morning and evening meals. Before each meal my father or mother would say a prayer of thanks. After the meal they would read from the Bible, have a brief meditation, and close with prayer.

Family worship was a top priority. If we were running late in the morning and thought the school bus might come soon, did we skip Bible reading and prayer? No, my parents would just read the Bible before breakfast instead of after. That way, if we saw the bus coming while we were eating, we could grab something and eat it on the way to school, or miss part of breakfast. We kids might complain, but Dad and Mom would rather have us miss food than miss family worship. They knew that "man does not live on bread alone, but on every word that comes from the mouth of God" (Matthew 4:4).

I grew up not in a preaching family but a farm family—ordinary people, far from perfect. But we loved each other, and God was the center of our home. Over the years, my parents' faithfulness in daily worship nurtured a connection to Christ and built up my Bible knowledge more than all I learned in school or seminary.

Family worship takes only a few minutes a day. It doesn't have to be flashy, just faithful. Starting and ending each day by talking and listening to God sets the tone for everything else you do.

2012. Family of Faith
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