Sunday, 30 September 2012

Sunday Stuff

I taught my Sunday School class about worship today. I tried to remove any thoughts that worship=singing from their little heads. I don't know how successful I was. One of the questions on their worksheets was "True or false: worship always includes music." Only one student started to put down true, so I was a bit encouraged. Then they were supposed to write down their own thoughts about worship (or things from class that weren't in any of the other questions) and a lot of them wrote about singing hymns. Sigh. Some of them talked about praying and reading the Bible as well, so I guess there is some hope.

The boys all decided to sit together in Sunday School this morning. I tend to discourage it because they whisper and poke each other. I decided to allow it this week, but told them that if there was any talking or playing about or anything, they would be sent to sit with their parents and there would be no second chances today. One of them thought about it and decided that he would move and sit with the quieter people! The rest were actually pretty good.

My girls are a different matter. Of the 7 boys in my class, 6 of them are likely to be disruptive (although to varying degrees). Of the 5 girls, so far only 1 is likely to be disruptive and that's only when she is trying to make the boys behave. I try to keep her away from the boys for that reason. Of the other girls, 3 of them rarely talk, one is too new and sits with the girls (otherwise I could see her being a handful) and the last one is one of those responsible, well behaved children who know all the answers.

With the boys easily threatened and the girls generally good, this could be a pretty good year.

Saturday, 29 September 2012

A Bit of a Book Review

I've been working on a book review for When People are Big and God is Small by Edward T. Welch. It isn't quite done (it's in the final editing stage). Still, since I don't have much else to say, I'm going to share parts of it with you.

          The book is split into two parts: how and why we fear others and how to overcome this fear. In the first section, Welch looks at our fears: that others will see us, reject us, and hurt us physically. He also writes about how the world wants us to fear others. He discusses the reality of sin-shame and victim-shame (which, while not involving sin on the part of the victim, can intensify pre-existing sin-shame) and how they lead us to try hiding from the others. He shows how peer pressure and low self-esteem are actually ways that we show that we fear others more than we fear God.  He then looks at the influence of the world and how its elevation of emotions and view of spirituality (that everyone is spiritual and all spirituality is valid) can influence us in our decision making and attempts to fit in with the world. Welch finally looks at how the influence of the world shows up even in our churches and in much “Christian” counseling (which is really worldly psychology with some Scripture mixed in).
           In the second section Welch shows us how to overcome our fears by fearing the Lord instead. To do this, we need to spend time in Scripture as well as prayer, for ourselves and each other. He also discusses the difference between our felt needs and our real needs: we have biological needs (food, water, shelter) and spiritual needs (forgiveness, salvation), but our psychological needs tend to be desires; it is this blurring between needs and desires that leads to many of our problems. He acknowledges that we do need others as we are not all given the same gifts and abilities, but maintains that our goal should be to love others more and to need them less. Finally, he looks to the end of Ecclesiastes to sum up the solution to our problem of fearing man: fear God and keep His commandments.
           Despite the few concerns towards the end of the book, overall Welch has written a good, solid, biblical rebuttal to the cult of self-esteem so prevalent in our world today. In When People are Big and God is Small, Welch has given us the Scriptural basis for understanding how we often view ourselves and God, and the solution to our underlying problem of fearing men. The book can be used as an individual or group study, for counseling others or for dealing with our own issues. It is based very solidly on Scripture that is, for the most part, used well. Each chapter also has a “For further thought” section that allows the reader to apply the information to his own life, using specific (and often pointed) questions. This book is an excellent resource for anyone who wants to move beyond the fear of man to embrace a proper fear of God. It is recommended reading for all believers who want to need others less and love others more.

Since you don't have the whole review, I should mention my concerns briefly. I think Welch reads too much into a couple Scripture passages and confuses another. Still, his points are valid and he is not distorting or misusing the truth.

Sunday, 23 September 2012

Notes from Sunday School

Definition of Wisdom
A skilled and sensible approach to life, by God’s definition and standard, beginning with fear of the LORD, and always demonstrated in one’s behavior

Read Proverbs 1:20-33
Wisdom is not some elusive truth, hidden away on some quest. It shouts in the street (of course, so does folly)

There are always 2 choices: to follow wisdom or folly. Not following biblical wisdom automatically means following folly.

A final warning: Not all that’s called wisdom is true wisdom. Folly will often disguise itself as wisdom, but wisdom will never disguise itself as folly.

Sunday, 16 September 2012

It Made Me Laugh

Okay, you have to go and read this:
Boys in the Kitchen

Be sure to check out the recipe for carrot sticks.

Saturday, 15 September 2012

To Think About

J.I. Packer, speaking of being adopted into God's family:

"There you have absolute stability and security; the parent is entirely wise and good, and the child's position is permanently assured. The very concept of adoption is itself a proof and guarantee of the preservation of the saints, for only bad fathers throw their children out of the family, even under provocation; and God is not a bad father, but a good father."

from Knowing God

Sunday, 9 September 2012

Sunday Stuff

This morning, for the first time since the start of summer, my small elf sat with me in church. She was somewhat giggly during the service, until near the end when I told her to stop and behave. Then she pouted for a while. I didn't mind. When she's pouting, she's not bothering me. Eventually she stops pouting.

After church I...

  • arranged for a couple of my girls to come for discipleship sessions
  • handed out candy to the kids without making them work hard for it at all this week
  • heard what the potential choices were for this year's Bible study (a book by Bunyan or Edwards) and gave my opinion
  • started helping organize the Bible study kick off gathering, gave up and left it to other people, and told them to send me details and I'd email the group
  • assured one grade 8 girl that my decision to change the sleepover age groups (last year it was grades 4-6 for one group and junior/senior high for the other; this year it will be grades 4-8 and 9-12) was not the end of the world and that it was done to make the numbers more even and not to torment her
  • fed her chocolate so she felt better about life (she can be a bit dramatic)
  • set up the Sunday School plans with my other teacher (Sunday School starts next week)
  • helped that teacher find a couple good missionary biographies (she's teaching about missionaries once a month)
  • found some materials for someone who teaches "Christian ethics" at a school and wanted something that wasn't fluffy
  • agreed to send her the Junior Church stuff as well for use with the little kids
  • spoke with her about the Christmas concert; she will bring me some programs she has so I can see if they will work for us
  • accepted some donations for the church library (which was my sole librarian job today; I left everything else up to the other librarian, who had also brought in some new (to us) books)
  • spoke with one of the Junior Church music people about the changes we are making to the songs and learned that she had the same concerns
It was a very productive hour!

Friday, 7 September 2012

On That Same Note...

(This one comes after the one below.)

Trying to find God's will for you outside normal means, and waiting for a word from God, and wanting to feel God's presence at all times are like are like trying to smell the color nine.

On Hearing God

I believe I've posted on this before, but I'm still thinking about it.

Confession time:
I have never heard God speak to me.
I have never heard that "still, small voice" everyone is supposed to hear.
I have never had a dream or vision from God.
I have never "felt led" to do something.
When I make big decisions, I rarely have that perfect peace that proves that what I'm doing is God's will.

When I have to make a major decision...
I pray.
I talk to people who might have good advice or ideas or who might have experience.
I look at the options, weighing the pros and cons.
Then I do whatever seems to be the best decision.
Often I have second thoughts and I worry that I made the wrong decision and I pray more.
In the end, it all works out.
God is still in control of my life, even though I don't "feel" Him.

Here's the thing:
I don't know what "feeling led" feels like.
I just do stuff that I want to do.
Sometimes I just do stuff that needs to be done.

I think that "God told me to" or "I don't feel God leading me to" are just attempts to avoid responsibility and keep people from questioning your decisions.

I take responsibility for my choices. I choose what I do or don't do, and I don't blame God for my decisions.

I've stopped wondering if I'm missing something in my walk with God or if I'm not a good enough Christian because I don't hear His voice and all that stuff. I've finally realized that God has told me everything I need to know and has written it all down for me so I can read it whenever I want. What more can I ask for?

Tuesday, 4 September 2012

What I'm Learning

I'm preparing my discipleship plan for Worship and Wisdom class. Everything I'm reading, from Proverbs, Matthew, and James (and various other parts) only confirms one thing:

We only have 2 choices.

We either follow God or the world, as demonstrated in wisdom or folly.

We want more choices, right? Things that are sort-of okay, or not really wrong. It's not really God's wisdom, but we're certainly not following worldly folly either.

I'm sorry, people, but such a choice does not exist. Furthermore, we have to choose wisdom deliberately: it won't just happen. And every time we are not choosing wisdom, we are by default choosing folly.

Sometimes the hard part is knowing what wisdom is in a certain situation. I think, though, that it isn't always as tough as we think (or as we want it to be so that we might have an excuse for slacking a bit). It takes work, though, and time spent reading and learning Scripture and learning to know God more and more.