FREEdom in Christ

516azsgqv0l-_sx322_bo1204203200_That same situation is happening again, the one that always results in me running to my drug of choice for security and comfort. Those same thoughts are going through my head, the ones that conclude with me feeling disconnected from God and turning instead to some habit that “misses the mark” of truly fulfilling me in any lasting, meaningful way.

So, it’s decision time. I know the battle over doing what I do not want to do must first be won in the mind before it will result in behavioral change. So how exactly do I do that?
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KonMari Tidying Method

22318578It does not take much to overwhelm me, and I feel real, measurable stress in an environment littered with lots of stuff, especially when it is in no sort of order. Before we had kids, it was easy to keep things relatively tidy. Items that were put in a certain place actually stayed in that place!

But that changed with two little boys running about. And for a few years, when they were very young, it seemed all we could do just to keep up with them. The house became cluttered, stuff got shoved into closets willy-nilly, we began to burst at the seams, and my stress level grew. While I was working outside the home, it wasn’t too difficult to deal with, but once I started spending more time at home during the days, I knew something had to change.

The rule in our house is that it is okay to be high-maintenance as long as you are self-maintaining. In other words, if you want something a certain way, you are welcome to make it so but you are also responsible to take care of it yourself. Because I am willing to live with untidiness to a lesser degree than the rest of my family, I knew I would need to lead the charge on any sort of clean-up initiative. And, having been outside the home for several years, I was not sure where to even begin. We’d tried over the years to get things decluttered and organized, only to have the closets fill again and piles of stuff begin accumulating on every flat surface and in every dark corner.
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The Battle Is Waged First in the Mind

516azSGqv0L._SX322_BO1,204,203,200_Knowing who we are in Christ and resting in our true identity in Him, we know that we need not fear any failure or defeat. Our ultimate victory (success) is assured and our ultimate worth (security) has been unalterably established and declared by God Himself. Thus we can boldly move out into life, following wherever our Lord leads. Convinced of God’s love for us and thus desiring to be like Him and obey His commands out of our reflected love for Him, we will know inwardly what it is the Spirit is asking us to address so that our behavior comes more and more in line with the truth of our perfection in Him.

As we begin to do so, we will very quickly encounter great opposition! Both from within (our habit of making sinful choices) and without (the attacks and temptations of the enemy), there is terrific resistance against our making forward progress in the journey of faith and discipleship. Daily battle must be waged if we are to make any progress at all. Following Jesus never just happens by accident!
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Secure Because I’m God’s Child

516azSGqv0L._SX322_BO1,204,203,200_In Chapter 6, Suitt presents Jesus Christ, the very Word of God, as the foundation of a biblical worldview. Our acknowledgement of our identity in Christ and our resting in His completed work is the very first step we take on the journey of faith.

Suitt uses a helpful mnemonic acronym: SET FREE NOWWW. The “S” is what Chapter 6 is all about — I am “Secure because I’m God’s child” (1 John 3:1-3). This is the bedrock to which we return over and over again as we pursue Christ and becoming more like Him as we mature in our faith. No matter how bad we mess up along the way, we can rest confidently in the immutable truth of our Father’s love for us. Nothing can change it and nothing can separate us from it! When I stumble, I know I am not condemned. I do not need to wallow in guilt, because the Savior has already been crucified — and I do not want to crucify Him all over again! Rather than getting tripped up in guilt or focused on my own failure, I am free instead to turn to Him immediately for forgiveness and then get back up and move forward. The value of this cannot be overstated. Indeed, without it, there can be no true and lasting relationship with God, because it is His love for us and our embracing of our true identity in Him that forms the very ground for that relationship to exist in the first place.
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More Than a Sunday Faith review – Chapter 6

516azsgqv0l-_sx322_bo1204203200_“See what love the Father has given us, that we should be called children of God; and that is what we are.” (from 1 John 3)

“But to all who received him, who believed in his name, he gave power to become children of God, who were born, not of blood or of the will of the flesh or of the will of man, but of God.” (from John 1)

We are God’s beloved children. When we take Jesus at His word and believe He is indeed the only true source of life and He alone worthy of submitting ourselves to (and then proceed to act as if we actually believed it!), we enter into that new identity and can begin to experience the truth and power of it. We know the Father’s unconditional love, regardless of our behavior or performance. We can truly rest for the first time in our lives, because the constant striving is over at last!

“So if anyone is in Christ, there is a new creation: everything old has passed away; see, everything has become new!” (2 Corinthians 5:17)

As a new creation, we have a real choice whether to sin. We are no longer enslaved and unable to reject sin (or to even discern what is sinful). The truth of Jesus is that in Him we are no longer sinners. We are now “saints with a sin challenge”, to use Suitt’s wonderful phrase. Our core character, our true inner nature, has been transformed from the “old man” of sin and death to the “new man” of Jesus and His Spirit.
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Wondering About Alice

aliceAlice’s Adventures in Wonderland and Through the Looking-Glass, and What Alice Found There have both just come up on our home school reading list. It has been a long time since I read either, so I went ahead and read through both of them again.

I had forgotten how much of this material has entered popular culture in one way or another. The characters are memorable: White Rabbit, Mad Hatter, Queen of Hearts, Cheshire Cat, Tweedledum, Tweedledee, Humpty Dumpty (although not original to Dodgson), and Alice herself, to name but a few. The scenes are vividly etched into our minds: the mad tea party, the constant shrinking and growing (“Eat Me”, “Drink Me”), the Jabberwock. Even several of Dodgson’s nonsense words and phrases have entered our lexicon: “chortle”, “galumphing”, “jam tomorrow; never jam today”.

Both stories are framed as young Alice’s dreams, and the environs and scenarios presented in each could only occur in a dream-world. The impossible is commonplace, and pure nonsense plays a large role. Most notably, in a departure from much of the children’s literature of the day, these books contain no moral and are not intended to provide any instruction. They are simply for fun, as is clearly communicated in the Christmas and Easter letters Dodgson wrote to appear with certain publication runs of the books.
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More Than a Sunday Faith review – Chapter 5

516azSGqv0L._SX322_BO1,204,203,200_Part 1 of the book established why we need to live with a Biblical worldview. Part 2, beginning in chapter 5, seeks to establish the threefold foundation of that worldview: 1) a radical change in our understanding of our core identity, 2) a shift in focus to our thinking rather than our behavior, and 3) a gradual learning of how to process daily life through the Word of God.

Chapter 5 refreshes us on the importance of our choices, as discussed in chapter 4, and then proceeds to couch the question in terms of our basic needs as human beings:

  1. Love, acceptance, belonging
  2. Significance
  3. Safety and security

Because we have been made by God in his image, we are designed to find all of these needs met perfectly and fully only in Him. Nothing and no one else will ultimately satisfy — by design!
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More Than a Sunday Faith review – Chapter 4

516azsgqv0l-_sx322_bo1204203200_Having defined a biblical worldview and argued for it being superior to any competing worldview, including a “Christian lifestyle”, Suitt draws the first part of the book to a close with an ultimatum of sorts: Trust yourself, trust the world, or trust Jesus. Which will it be? For we do not have the option to “sit this one out”. By making “no choice”, we by default choose the option of trusting ourselves, because it is our own counsel that tells us “no choice” is not only a valid choice but the best one.

One of the gems from this little book is the repeated refrain: “We become the choices we make.” This pithy expression has wide application, and no less so in the matter of what or whom we will follow in our everyday decision-making process. If we choose to follow Jesus as our leader and master (“as Lord”, in the language of the Bible), we will become like Him. If we instead follow our own ways, we will become like them. Psalm 135 puts it very well.

Jesus Himself did not do or say anything without first checking it with His heavenly Father (John 5:19, 8:28, 12:49). Thus, if we are to follow Him, we must do the same. For if we do not take steps to actively shape our worldview, it will be shaped for us — primarily by the lies of Satan, our enemy and the prince of this world. And there is much that will distract us from our intention to follow Jesus!
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“The Swiss Family Robinson” Review

300px-SwissFamilyRobinson2The Swiss Family Robinson, by Johann David Wyss, was originally published in 1812. The title refers not to a Swiss family by the name of Robinson but rather to a Swiss family forced by circumstance to live much like the well-known Robinson Crusoe. This tale, and a great number of other stories of survival on deserted islands after shipwreck, were immensely popular in the period. Most detailed the lives of solitary figures or duos. The Swiss Family Robinson added a new twist by relating the account of a family and how they work together to make the most of a difficult ordeal.

For the homeschooler, this is a wonderful book to be read by a fourth-, fifth-, or sixth-grade reader. While much of the detail does not hold up to close scrutiny to our contemporary expectations for realism — this island must be huge to sport just about every known species of animal, tree, and fruit! — it is a compelling tale of adventure for a younger reader. It has at times a very challenging vocabulary, especially with its archaic terminology and antiquated usage of terms still familiar. (I consulted a dictionary more than a few times myself. Being able to look things up on a Kindle e-reader is very handy!) The dense, complex sentence structure is typical of the era, and paragraphs that span more than a single page are common. This can cause the story to bog down periodically, but isn’t perseverance also part of the curriculum? Due to its publication date, full electronic versions are available for free (or nearly so) from many sources.
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“More Than a Sunday Faith” Review – Chapter 3

The first part of the book, chapters 1-4, establishes why we need to live day-in and day-out with a Biblical worldview acting as our sole filter for all of life’s experiences. Chapter 1 lays the groundwork for our need in this area, and Chapter 2 contrasts a Biblical worldview with a “Christian lifestyle”, showing why the latter is not biblical and just does not work.

In Chapter 3, Suitt discusses a number of different competing worldviews, both secular and religious, and contrasts each with a Biblical worldview. While Suitt’s taxonomy and definitions of worldviews are not extremely precise, they do a good job of covering the basics. Further analysis on this point is outside the scope of this review, but it is a worthwhile study, especially if the idea of worldviews is new to you or one you have not studied overmuch. I would encourage you to read this chapter carefully and thoughtfully.
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