Monday, February 28, 2011

Sacrificing Your Children

When I say that, you probably had the image of Abraham taking his son Isaac up on a mountain, tying him down to the altar, just in time for the sacrificial lamb to arrive. That’s a great story about trusting and loving God above all else and about God’s provision and faithfulness. But no, that’s not what we’re talking about. I’m talking about sacrificing our children, and not in a good way.


Child sacrifice, that’s a pleasant thought to think of early in the morning, isn’t it? Picture the Aztecs, as they took perfectly innocent babies and threw them in to a pit of fire to one of their gods. If you’re anything like me, you’re wondering how on earth could they do that?!? I have no idea to be honest. After 9 months, full of morning sickness, heartburn, insomnia, backaches, and so forth, and after twenty four hours of unmedicated labor, not to mention the months of nursing, how could I just willingly hand my baby over to someone I knew would kill him or her is beyond my understanding! Surely I am not alone in this, right? Of course not! It is in our very nature as mothers to protect them from harm. Even before our children arrive, we think about their safety. We buy outlet plug covers, sleep positioners, top of the line car seats and strollers, baby gates, and so forth. Some people even hire “experts” to come in and find all of the potential dangers lurking in their homes. Once they’re here, we take them to the doctor for well check-ups, and give them immunizations to protect them from diseases that could cause great bodily harm. We do extensive research on the people we will entrust the care of our little one with if we must return to work. Background checks, personal references, etc.

We do all of these things to protect them from physical harm, but my question for you today is what have you done about the spiritual dangers that are just as harmful to your child’s soul? We bring our kids to church with us, maybe they’re involved in Sunday school, or a club on Wednesday nights. We pray with them, and maybe we even do family devotions. These are GREAT, and I am proud of you for taking this time with your family. But is there something we’re still missing?

In Psalm 106, it says “They [the Israelites] sacrificed their sons and their daughters to the demons. They shed innocent blood, the blood of their sons and daughters, whom they sacrificed to the idols of Canaan…” (vs. 37-38) Clearly, we are not physically sacrificing our children; we’re not shedding actual blood. We have no altar, no place to drop our kids off in masses, a place where we give total control of the children God has entrusted us with over to someone else, right? Or do we? Every morning, I waited in line to drop my child off at school, just one of the masses handing control of my oldest son over to a staff that I didn’t know. Now before you write me off and say I’m one of the crazy, isolationists homeschooling people, I ask you to bear with me. Stick through this, even if it’s just to prove me I’m wrong. I’m okay with that.

Let’s pretend for a minute that your 2nd grade daughter is waiting in the room after they dismiss school to be picked up in the car line. While waiting for her name to be called, she overhears a conversation by two teachers about the girl that has two mommies, and then her attention changes to the song on the radio in the room. It’s about a girl who found out their significant other has been cheating on her and to get even, she took a baseball bat to his car. By the time she gets into the car, she’s had a piece of her innocence taken from her that she will never, ever get back. Now I am not na├»ve enough to say that they can’t or won’t be exposed to this elsewhere, but these are the realities that our kids face on a daily basis when dropped off at school, even in a private school.

Imagine with me for a minute, that you drop your child off at an extra-curricular activity, maybe 4-H or soccer practice. When they get back in the car, you overhear your son and his friend talking about Wizards of Waverly Place or about the “swear word” that the coach said when he got hit by the ball in his head. You’d probably bring it to the attention of the person who is in charge or perhaps you’d even take your child out of the activity if it continued to happen, right? The problem is that when we drop our children off every day and turn them over to people who probably don’t believe exactly as we do, to spend the day with children whose parents most likely don’t believe exactly as we do, they are going to be exposed to things we don’t want them to be exposed to. They are going to be placed in situations that will not be good for them. Don’t get me wrong, I’m not suggesting we lock them in a tower like Princess Fiona on Shrek. I’m saying we are to shield them and guard them from anything that is not of God until they are able to fully dissect things using the Holy Spirit for discernment and the Word of God as a measuring stick.

So until then, my friends, are you willing to sacrifice the innocence of your children? Will you knowingly drop them off at the altar of the school doors? My prayer for you and for me is simple: “Out of His great love…Save us, O Lord our God, and gather us from the nations.” (Psalm 106:45, 47)


Monday, February 14, 2011

Rockin'

One of my fellow homeschooling moms shared at our monthly bible study meeting as her kids have gotten older, she has allowed them to take charge of their own "quiet time" but she has a way to help them digest and apply what they've read. She has them share what scripture they read and they make a list called "My God Is..." (a list of the qualities of God the scripture revealed about God.) I thought it was a cool concept and wanted to apply it to my own personal devotions for a while now, but haven't until just this morning (partly because I've been so slack on actually doing them!)

This morning was rough (yes, I realize it is not even 11 o'clock yet!) My feelings were already hurt from a hubby who waited until last minute to think about Valentine's day, even though he knows that my primary love language is gifts. And before I go on, I want to say that this does NOT mean that I am materialistic or high maintenance. It means that he could've gone to the dollar store and bought a purple candle and said "when I saw this purple candle, I had to buy it because I knew how much you love purple!" and that would've made my day. But I digress...Even though I know this is TOTALLY a hallmark holiday, it hurt me to know that I was gone ALL day yesterday and he didn't even try to hide that he was waiting til 8 PM the night before to get me something. So, anyways, this morning, I walked out of my bedroom into the kitchen to see all of the dirty dishes from yesterday, the trash overflowing, the kids table with leftover food stuck it, etc. I was overwhelmed and my feelings were really hurt. (By the way, he did get me something, & had sent me a valentine's day poem in my inbox, I just hadn't gotten to it yet!) I did the dishes really quickly, made the kids a quick breakfast, grabbed my coffee and literally ran back to my room. I knew I needed some time alone with God. My soul desperately needed some encouragement from the One who never forgets. I sat down on the bed, asked Him to adjust my attitude and give me strength and patience for the day. I threw my devotional book aside, and asked Him to lead me to the scripture for today. I opened up to Psalm 19, which is wonderful and full of some great imagery.

"1The heavens declare the glory of God;
the skies proclaim the work of his hands.
2 Day after day they pour forth speech;
night after night they reveal knowledge.
3 They have no speech, they use no words;
no sound is heard from them.
4 Yet their voice goes out into all the earth,
their words to the ends of the world.
In the heavens God has pitched a tent for the sun.
5 It is like a bridegroom coming out of his chamber,
like a champion rejoicing to run his course.
6 It rises at one end of the heavens
and makes its circuit to the other;
nothing is deprived of its warmth.

7 The law of the LORD is perfect,
refreshing the soul.
The statutes of the LORD are trustworthy,
making wise the simple.
8 The precepts of the LORD are right,
giving joy to the heart.
The commands of the LORD are radiant,
giving light to the eyes.
9 The fear of the LORD is pure,
enduring forever.
The decrees of the LORD are firm,
and all of them are righteous.

10 They are more precious than gold,
than much pure gold;
they are sweeter than honey,
than honey from the honeycomb.
11 By them your servant is warned;
in keeping them there is great reward.
12 But who can discern their own errors?
Forgive my hidden faults.
13 Keep your servant also from willful sins;
may they not rule over me.
Then I will be blameless,
innocent of great transgression.

14 May these words of my mouth and the meditation of my heart
be acceptable in your sight, O LORD, my Rock and my Redeemer."

The last verse is a verse that brings back all sorts of memories for me from my few years at Lee University. Anyone whoever attended Lee knows this verse by heart, as we said it at the end of every single chapel. My mind was racing, thinking of all the good times I had there, but then they were quickly overshadowed by the bad memories that far outweighed the good. As those memories flooded my mind, I stopped and had an "ah-ha!" moment. Rather than drowning in misery, the Lord was reminding me of who He is no matter what I had done or will do. While we change, He does not change and is FOREVER the same.

"My God is..." my ROCK. As I wrote that in my journal, I made a list of what I thought that meant. In my mind, I envision this Rock as one of those huge boulders. Something that cannot be moved. Something that stays in the same place, no matter what comes. In a huge snow storm, it's not moved. In the steamiest days of summer in NC, it is not changed. The winds from a hurricane cannot remove it. It goes NO WHERE. I was also reminded of a story one of my friends recently told me about a car accident she was in. Somehow she passed out, and ran across on coming traffic, and instead of hitting any other cars, she slammed into this huge rock at the end of a parking lot. The rock was positioned at the end of the parking lot to protect the brick apartments behind it. She very easily could've crashed into the apartments or into another car, but instead, she ran into this rock that was strategically placed there. But even when you go look at the rock, you see that it has not moved, even after being hit by an oncoming car. It doesn't look any different. It remains a huge boulder set at the same place it was originally set at.That's what I think that God is saying. My God is my Rock who remains the same and doesn't change.

"My God is my Rock" also can be seen as something that can elevate us. That rock that Tara ran into were all around those apartment buildings, the same complex we used to live in. Our kids used to climb on them and they felt so cool on top of them. They felt superior because it made them taller. They were able to see things from a different perspective. I think that is the same thing that God can do for us as well. He can be our Rock, lifting us up off the ground and give us a different vantage point. We might be able to see the reason why he made us take a mile detour to the right, because there were ant hills all along the path if we had stayed straight ahead or even gone to the left. My God is my Rock who gives me a different perspective.

He also allows us to climb on Him as our Rock to elevate us to protect us from danger. When most people see a mouse on the floor, what is their first reaction? To jump up off of the ground onto something higher, right? When someone tells us there's a spider or a snake, something that we're scared of or that might cause us harm, our basic instinct is to find some place higher than where we are right now. My God is my Rock who elevates and protects me.

Sometimes though, when we crawl on that Rock, after a while, it can get uncomfortable. It's not as soft as that grass was. (even though that grass was full of ant hills, snakes, spiders and mice!) We often want to "take a break" and go rest on the soft green grass because staying on that big boulder just is not comfortable. Have you ever tried to sleep on a rock? Have you sat on a rock for more than just a few minutes? Even though the Rock has remained unchanged during the hurricane, has allowed us to see the things in our past that we were saved from and has protected us from all sorts of other dangers, we often get weary of the "hardness" and start thinking about how much easier it would be just to hop down on the grass. And then we start to figure out a way that we can do BOTH! We can sit on the grass while leaning our back on the rock. Eventually though, the things of the grass will come back to harm us and we'll once again have to choose whether we want the Rock's protection, or whether we're more interested in comfort. My God is My Rock and sometimes it's not easy to rest on Him.

My God is My Rock. When I'm standing on this Rock, I cannot be moved. I cannot be harmed. I will see things from a different perspective. And yes, it won't be easy and it will not be as comfortable as it is on the grass.

Tuesday, February 1, 2011

CODE RED!


In 2004, the American Heart Association (AHA) faced a challenge. Cardiovascular disease claimed the lives of nearly 500,000 American women each year, yet women were not paying attention. In fact, many even dismissed it as an “older man’s disease.” To dispel the myths and raise awareness of heart disease as the number one killer of women, the American Heart Association created Go Red For Women – a passionate, emotional, social initiative designed to empower women to take charge of their heart health.
You know that heart disease and stroke are still the No. 1 and No. 3 killers of women. But did you know more women die of cardiovascular
disease and stroke than the next four causes of death combined, including all forms of cancer? Did you also know that 90 percent of women have one or more risk factors for developing heart disease, which if controlled could reduce their risk?
This Friday, February 4th is National Wear Red day, and I'm asking you to join me in wearing red to raise awareness of this killer.

So, this Friday, I go red for my dear AunT Sharon. I love you, AunT!!! Who do you go red for?