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Informal education at its best.  Eden dumped the entire bowl of nuts (mixed with broken shells and dried holly leaves) onto the floor.  It was great fun, indicated by the attending squeal and laughter.  I cheerfully explained that now she needs to pick them up and I showed her a couple of my best cheerful picking-up moves and placed two nuts in the bowl.  She cheerfully began, then she learned a life lesson we’ve all learned (several times in various ways): it’s a lot easier to dump out nuts than to pick them up.  I went back to my dinner preps and after a bit of picking up, she came back to me with a frustrated, “Holp, mama”.  I “holped” her by taking her back over to her mess and saying, “If you make the mess, you have to clean it up.”  She made a face indicating she didn’t want to. I laughed and said, “Uh-uh, you have to pick it up as cheerfully as you made it!”.  We practiced cheerful again, laughing together. Then we showed each other what our ugly, frustrated, grumpy faces look like again—just to show how we’re not going to pick them up (that’s when I took the picture of her below; she’s showing me her grumpy face).  Then we practiced cheerful again. And then she picked up the rest all by herself, cheerfully.

The audio link below is a sermon on Colossians 3:20 by Pastor Carl Robbins of Woodruff Road, PCA—a great one for parents.  If you don’t have the time to listen to it (or better yet, to sit down with your brood and listen to it), the three points are that obedience has three Biblical aspects and if they aren’t all present, it isn’t really obedience at all; it’s disobedience.  Obedience is (1) prompt (2) complete (3) and joyful.  He gives vivid Biblical illustrations.  We listened to this sermon the other day as a timely refresher course and then we all practiced what isn’t obedience (to mock it), then practiced what is obedience.  I like to keep in mind that my own obedience to God needs to be the same: am I disciplining my children cheerfully?  promptly? completely? or just when I’m really irritated, personally insulted, finally fed up, or at my convenience?



mocking our grumpiness

happy face practice

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m u s i n g  o n  a- m u s i n g

Amusement.  I had come across the word yesterday and it had scolded me slightly.  It always does.  I recall going to a seminar with my parents once at Berea Baptist Church when I was on college break—a rather long time ago now.  The speaker within the short designated hour clearly commanded my attention toward some simple everyday words, so that my future encounters with amusement and entertainment, were not to be so unguarded as they had previously been.  A-muse, he pointed out, was derived from the Greek, the “a” being the prefix for “without” as in a-gnostic (without knowledge) and a-theist (without God). The “muse” being the word for thinking, pondering, considering. “-Ment” is a state of being. So amusement would, by strict etymological dissection, be defined as “the state of not thinking”.    He speared the word “entertainment” with similar agility. It collapsed pathetically to the floor in three parts: “enter” (to enter) “tain” (from Latin: to hold, possess, take captive) “ment” (the state of being).  The application of such word play was the challenge for us to thoughtfully muse—to consider—what we allow to enter our thoughts to hold us captive. And it did.

I found myself more thoughtfully analyzing the screens that bombarded me daily:  the news, the ads, the tv shows, the movies, even cartoons, and all the old-school media forms, too: books, journals, the radio, textbooks. I started seeing them for they were— a pulpit, a relentless, hounding pulpit, preaching to me what I should do and be and think—and often starkly contrasting what the Bible says I should think, feel, and do.  But Paul in the Scriptures urges us to see the world’s propaganda for what it really is:  strongholds and warfare (I Corinthians 10:5).  He urges us to “destroy arguments and every lofty opinion raised against the knowledge of God and take every thought captive to obey Christ”.  Wow.  Weapons on screens.  Weapons in God’s Word, that double-edged sword.  Warfare in my brain, two conflicting sides vying for power to enter and take captive my every thought, feeling, action.  And everybody else’s too.  I came to realize that we are in a cultural battle with the world about our thinking on absolutely everything:  sex, money, glory, work, love, friendship,  marriage, family, children, purpose, sacrifice, justice, goodness, beauty, truth.  I dared not a-muse myself—any further not thinking on my part was an open invitation that the world would eagerly accept to entertain, “to enter and take captive” the very thoughts that ought to be obeying Christ

God calls us take every thought captive to him.  He wants to be the one to captivate us, to entertain us (:, to teach us the how and why and what we ought to think about sex, money, glory, work, love, friendship, marriage, family, children, purpose, sacrifice, justice, goodness, beauty, truth.  After all, He created them, and He made them very good.  So how should we think about these things?  Our thinking has to be be directed by God’s Word.  It is like a great compass to give us a sense of direction in the rambling landscape of life—if we ignore it through arrogance or ignorance, we do so at our inexcusable peril.  God has poignant language to describe those who yield their thought and feeling and action to His enemy—they suppress the truth in unrighteousness, their foolish hearts are darkened, their thinking becomes futile, they exchange the truth of God for a lie, they are given over to a depraved mind (Romans 1).  But as part of His kingdom, we are called instead to humbly submit our thoughts to the authority of Christ, the Word Incarnate.  And as we obey His Word, acknowledging its supreme authority in every aspect of life, we find we really are being transformed by the renewing of our minds.  We begin to understand these things aright and we learn to embrace and enjoy them in their beautifully resurrected form, in all their satisfying fullness, the way He intended us to before the Fall.

Christians of our day are unfortunately not exactly renown for their astute thinking skills.  “Feely” skills. Yeah.  Thinking. Not so much.  But in a cultural battle with the world for it all, God calls us to diligence and arms.  Our weapon is thought, and word, and deed shaped by the divine power, the transforming power of the Word Incarnate.

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