My Word for 2017

We all need something to hang on to, right? It could be a routine, a promise, a plan, a ritual  – we just simply need to have a series of lifelines. That’s what gives us hope, and hope is foundational to living.

I’ve got many lifelines, plenty to hang on to. Plenty to do, lots of plans, loads of responsibilities, numerous good things going on. So why have a word? Because this just seems like the year to do it.

I know “word of the year” has been popular for some years, but I’ve had enough to do without adding something else. This just seems like a good year to do something different.

With all that goes on, I’ve been more into action items and daily life. Don’t get me wrong – I enjoy what I’ve been doing. I’m all for action and living and enjoying life. Maybe the Word challenge is a way to encapsulate what I’ve been doing and thinking, rather than being something else to do. Maybe this word of the year for 2017 is actually a metamorphosis for last year’s cocooning activity.

My word for 2017 is: Why?

thinker-1602201_640

Over the past year, it has become clear to me that I need to know more about why I’m doing something. Why do I make the rules that I do for my children? Why do I workout? (or, why don’t I workout?) Why do I respond to this-and-that situation in the way that I do? Why eat healthily (yes, it’s “healthily” instead of “healthy” if you wondered, but it’s not a big deal – just anticipating a question about it)? Why do I dress, or dress our kids, the way that I do? It’s also to remind myself about why I work, why I’m married, why we homeschool, etc. It’s in the reminders that I learn even more.

Not everything can be answered with a Why, but far more is made clear when I ask the question and get down to the motive.

It’s not that I’ve been doing things without knowing why – I have been to the best of my ability. But I’ve reached another point in growing up (something we all need to reach at various times throughout life). I’m at the point of refining what I do and what my reasons are for doing them.

The main principle behind this “Why?” refinement is this: Do I do what I do because I fear God? Or because I fear Man? (Matthew 10:28; Psalm 118:6; Proverbs 29:25; Hebrews 13:6)

Case in point: Have I made society’s dress code equivalent to Scripture’s code? Scripture has limited advice on how we dress, and one main point is to dress modestly. This past weekend we all stayed the night somewhere else. One of our younger ones ended up, for Sunday morning, with a dress shirt and…sweat pants. At least the pants were black – a good power color, and the goes everything. I wanted to be upset – how could he chooseTHAT?! Doesn’t the boy have any sense? He doesn’t have fashion sense (he’s like me), but AT LEAST get some decent pants.

But was his action a lack of will? Or was it lack of skill? It was a lack of skill. So what if he doesn’t have matching clothes? Any onlooker can tell he’s dressed modestly. Are my standards biblical? Or am I afraid that someone would say, “Your boy sure doesn’t know how to dress, does he?” Maybe he doesn’t know how to pick matching clothes, but that is not anywhere near a moral failing.

Why do I do things? Why do I think the things that I do? Is godliness my motivation? Is my impetus Christ-likeness? Or is it making sure that people don’t make fun of me or my family?

I want to delve into my motivations so that I can please Christ, not man.

Why am I writing this post? Am I trying to prove to someone that I can do it (wanting “man’s” praise)? No, I’m not. As any writer really wants to do, I’m writing so that I can share my burdens and encourage you, the reader, on to Christ-likeness.

Happy New Year!

compassion-bloggers-facebook-cover

 

Liberty, Hope, Life

I wake up, pretty much, whenever I like. Sometimes it hurts to rise-and-shine, but my wife and I have 10 kids, including a nursing infant, to get going each day, so getting up at a proper time and setting a good example aren’t option! I have a job I have to do, though I, as most Americans, have days I can take off pretty much whenever desired. I get breakfast and coffee (home-roasted, btw!); work out (I won’t say how often); we homeschool; I work from home (which I really like). A hot shower is always available. If something breaks, I have one or more ways to get it fixed.

My family is far from what many would consider rich, but we have all that we need, plus a lot more. We have choices to make each day, though many choices such as food, activities, weekend events, and weekly church are already settled into our weekly routine. And even those “settled” things can be changed as we need.

This is all the fruit of liberty. I won’t go into any specifics about the different aspects of things such as capitalism or about the founding of the U.S.A– I’ll just leave it at liberty.

Most people reading this have liberty. You have an internet connection, a house (and mortgage?), a car (and car payment?), your choice of schooling, your choice of your place of worship. These, and so much more, are the fruits of liberty – in general, people with money have choices. There are rough spots in life for everyone, but with the financial system we have in the USA even those who are strapped for cash can buy a house or car using a loan; we can use a credit card; we can save and invest; we can get a job; we can work from home; we can own a business. You’re correct in thinking that it’s not all easy or easily accessible, but most of you reading this have liberty, and therefore you have choices.

Before they’re sponsored, Compassion children don’t have many, if any, choices. They don’t get to choose where they eat breakfast, or necessarily what and how often they eat and drink. They don’t get to put milk/honey/cream/etc. in coffee or tea (if they even have those).  As odd as it sounds, they don’t get to go into debt, because they don’t have a sound financial system upon which they can draw to even get started. Unless someone from outside reaches out to them, they are stuck.

When you sponsor a child through Compassion, you give them the one thing that underlies pretty much every good thing in life – hope. What gets you to the next day? Hope that things will be just that much better tomorrow; hope that I’ll get it right next week; hope that our kids will do better next month; hope that, with treatment, our loved one will be in remission next year.

Sponsoring a child lets them know that they’ll get good food this month. Next month, maybe a new toothbrush. Your Christmas gift to them may be the only way they get a new school uniform. As they look down the road, through the years, they see that as the support continues, they can break the cycle of poverty. And it gives their parents hope – hope that their child can live a different and better life. It gives the child the hope that he can come back and help his parents. Or that she can come back with her husband to help their village. The fruits of hope are almost boundless.

Sponsoring a child through Compassion means you give up some of the fruits of your labor and liberty. However, giving up some of the fruits of your liberty doesn’t take away your liberty, but rather gives liberty to someone else. And liberty brings hope. And hope brings life.

Sanity

Chesterton says of the sane man: “His spiritual sight is stereoscopic, like his physical sight: he sees two different pictures at once and yet sees all the better for that.”

Christians see just that way – they see both sides. People are mortal, and immortal. There is great good AND great evil. The earth is beautiful, and it’s tragic. One’s loved family member can be loving AND hurtful. Life is enjoyable, and downright drudgery. Youth is great, as is old age; and both are temporary. We can be happy and sad at one and the same time.

We’d like to see and experience just the comfortable points, but there’s more to life than comfort and ease – there’s Jesus’ lordship to ponder. He is Lord over evil, too, and we need to see and experience that. We can’t be conquerors if our only battle is what we should watch and wear.

Enjoy!

I was thinking earlier today that 2 things I want to work on in the New Year of 2016 is to enjoy life and fight sin (some background here: https://anythingisprogress.wordpress.com/2014/07/27/enjoying-life-and-glorifying-god/).

I just heard on the radio that a recent survey shows that the top resolution of many people is to enjoy life to the fullest in 2016. What a coincidence!

I’m not the only one who wants to release themselves from busy-ness and constant connectedness. What should be added, though, is an active participation in fighting, in both ourselves and in others, the sin that gets us hung up in life.

While we are desiring and seeking the good in life, we need to fight the bad.

So enjoy your new year, but be ready to dig in and get dirty, too.

Saved is Saved

If you were saved from drowning, would you say afterward “It would have been better if you used nicer equipment”?Or if you were pulled from a car wreck, would you say, “It would have been better if you had a PhD”?

Saved is saved.

It’s the same when it comes to spiritual salvation. When Christ saves you, you’re saved – there’s no “extra special” or “better” to it. People want to make salvation “better” by adding translations, special days, calendars, special people groups, degrees, commendations, and ministries. There’s nothing better than salvation, and nothing beyond.

It’s Christ, and Christ alone. There’s no way to extend it, expand it, or enhance it. No understanding of the Old Testament, no inclusion in a group, no special observance, no particular training will make one a better Christian than another. It’s knowing the Christ that makes the Christian.

At Christmas time, celebrating Christ is not made better by presents, trees, and cinnamon wreaths. Those things make our surroundings more comfortable and can promote nicer emotions (depends on why you bought things – to please God? or to please man?). But Christ is pleased only if we’re saved, and we should only be pleased by His work on the cross.

Family time, carols, gift-giving – we should enjoy them all. But is that the basis of my Christmas? If I wouldn’t be joyful and fulfilled just to breathe a prayer of thanks to God the Father for the gift of God the Son, then the carol bells will ring hollow, my tree will not bear fruit, and my songs will only be clamor.