Friday, August 1, 2014

Joy > Grief

“Count it all joy, my brothers, when you meet trials of various kinds, for you know that the testing of your faith produces steadfastness. And let steadfastness have its full effect, that you may be perfect and complete, lacking in nothing.” James 1:2-4

God wants us to be joyful. The Bible even commands that we “count it all joy” even when we encounter trials. Does this sound good to you?

I think this idea—misunderstood—can easily be seen as a burden.

“I have to be happy even when bad things are happening? If I’m not happy does that mean I’m sinning?”

Indeed, if this is what the Bible was saying, it would be a burden. Thankfully, it is not! There is a big difference between “happiness” and “Joy.” Happiness, as many understand it today, is a pleasant emotional state. Joy is often used in this same sense so it is easily confused with happiness, but it is actually much more!

Joy is an overall and ultimate sense of well-being. It is the knowledge that everything is okay. We are not called to always be happy, but we are called to always be joyful.  Why?

There are a couple very important reasons for this.

Wednesday, July 30, 2014

Are Homeschoolers Socialized?

“One of the most persistent criticisms of home-schooling is the accusation that home-schoolers will not be able to fully participate in society because they lack ‘socialization’,” 1 began an article in the Washington Times.

Indeed, “socialization” is often the biggest concern cited by those unwilling to homeschool their children. Is there good solid evidence for believing your child will end up unable to cope with our complex society as a result of receiving his or her education at home?

First off, what exactly IS socialization? Here are a few definitions:

  1. The modification from infancy of an individual's behavior to conform with the demands of social life.
  2. A continuing process whereby an individual acquires a personal identity and learns the norms, values, behavior, and social skills appropriate to his or her social position.
  3. The act or process of making socialistic.


It sounds to me like the first two definitions are what most people are concerned with when they throw out the word, socialization.

I sure hope they don’t mean the third definition, although that is quite possible, seeing as the public education system was founded by socialists. (See Weapons of Mass Instruction, John Taylor Gatto)

In general, those who fear un-socialization from home-schooling, or use this fear as an argument against the model, are using the word in the sense that—by home-schooling—your children will not be well adapted to the traditions and rituals of society, and that your children “will not be able to fully participate in society,” or that they will not learn from society how they are supposed to act, and thus, will be abnormal and/or miss-out on societal experiences.

No one wants that for their children, right? 

On a more extreme level, some may fear that homeschoolers will be so un-socialized that they will be paralyzed by fear or uncertainty when they eventually leave the nest and have to face, “the real world.”

Is it true that homeschooling results in a lack of socialization?

Well according to the definitions of socialization above, no. Everyone receives some form of socialization. It is a “continuing process” and a “modification from infancy”. Everything in our lives influences how we are “socialized”. Everyone receives socialization, or another way of putting it, everything that happens to us shapes who we are, and how we interact with other people. This is branded, “socialization.”

And yet, some have the idea that homeschooling results in a complete lack of socialization. This idea is propagated by the myth that homeschoolers spend their days, “locked in their room, studying in the dark,” as one acquaintance of mine assumed I did after I turned down an offer to attend a social gathering. I corrected him, pointing out that, “No, I don’t study in the dark because then I can’t see. I leave the lights on.”

However, does my turning down this offer make me un-socialized?

Tuesday, July 29, 2014

Don't Teach Girls To Be Modest; That Sexualizes Them

Note: This post is for Christians who truly seek to become like Christ. This is not a post for those who have rejected the Biblical principle of modesty.

A couple years ago, I wrote a series defending the belief that women and girls should dress modestly.  I thought that modesty was good because it was considerate of others, allowed women to be treated with more respect, and accented femininity.

But, according to opponents of humility in dress, modesty actually sexualizes girls.

It's always baffled me how some could make such arguments. Modesty is the exact opposite of objectifying!

On Facebook, some of my Christian, homeschooled, friends were sharing this article, (don't waste your time reading it) which explains how modesty apparently sexualizes, specifically, through the banning of leggings and yoga pants in schools.  

There are several very poor arguments and assumptions made in this post which Christians should never buy into.

Here are three of them. 

Friday, July 25, 2014

Are You A Rebel?

Rebellion is cool in our culture today. Rebellion against authority, parents, trends, beliefs, stereotypes, and so on. People are constantly finding new things to rebel against.

It has become painfully clichĂ© to read novels or watch movies about a group of rebel freedom fighters seeking to overthrow the government. Even I have written novels that incorporate this idea. Rebellion is fascinating, it’s interesting, and it’s adventurous.

The problem is actions have consequences. You can’t take the condition and then reject the consequences. “If you choose to step off the roof, you can't then choose not to hit the ground.”1

So often in our culture, we want to rebel without thinking about the consequences for that rebellion. We think if we jump off a building we will sprout flapping protuberances which will bare us aloft in glorious flight, but instead we’re falling on our faces.

Rebellion is nothing new.

Soon after the world began, humanity rebelled against God, and we have been rebelling ever since. But not everything is being rebelled against today. There is one entity that has not yet faced a rebellion. One idea of our culture has kept its citizens happy. What facet do I refer to?

Wednesday, July 23, 2014

Perspective: Find Joy Despite the Circumstances

Sunsets are a celestial phenomenon that few can deny the beauty of. The sun sets everyday, though not all sunsets are equal in majesty. In Ohio during the winter, you rarely even see the sun behind the perpetually gray monster that is our winter sky--sunsets are rarely spectacular.

My family and I traveled to Florida for three weeks a couple years ago, and there, the sunsets were awe-inspiring everyday. The sinking ball of fire would stain the sky and clouds varying shades of orange and red as sun dropped behind the ocean. Incredible.

I found myself thinking after one such sunset, “Where has all of this been? It's the same sun that shines on Ohio.” It's incredible how a sunset in one location can be magnificent, and yet, non-existent in another. The only variable that determines how glorious a sunset appears is your perspective.

Perspective.

How many other things are there that would take on a whole new glory if we only changed our perspective? How about mundane everyday tasks? Or stressful and painful situations? Is there nothing we can do? Are we at the mercy of our circumstances? Or can we find a new perspective and see things in a positive light despite our circumstances?

Monday, July 21, 2014

3 Reasons Why Boys Should NOT Play Football


"Gentlemen, it is better to have died as a small boy than to fumble this football." - John Heisman


Last week I wrote about the 6 reasons boys should playfootball; however, there are reasons NOT to play football as well.

1. Time Commitment:

In my post last week, I listed the heavy time commitment football requires as a positive, but it is a double-edged sword.

While the time football requires can teach one to work hard and commit to something difficult, it does chew-up a lot of time that could be put elsewhere. There were many times where football interfered with my family’s schedule, and I wasn’t able to be home for dinner. Practices were supposed to go from 3:00pm to 6:00pm during the school year, but sometimes they ran longer, which also disrupted our family.

I was also unable to travel with my family during the summer because I had football camps or two-a-day practices. I had to stay behind. Family time and togetherness is something that is very important to my family, and it seemed that football would often interfere with that pursuit.

The great Vince Lombardi once said, "Winning isn't everything, it's the only thing." I think there is a lot of truth to this statement. We should strive to always win. Even if your team doesn't end up with the most points at the end, you should always put forth a winning effort. On the other hand, there is a downside to this attitude, and so often football (or other things) get elevated above the more important things in life.  

The time football demands is costly, and before you decide your son will play football, you have to count the cost it may have in disrupting family time.

Friday, July 18, 2014

What Is Love?

 “What is love? Oh baby don’t hurt me. Don’t hurt me. No more.” –Haddaway

Love. This word is everywhere today--in movies, in songs, in books, and in our speech. Our culture seems to be obsessed with it. But what really is “love?” And is the love our culture worships the same kind of love Jesus told us to have for others? The same kind of love He has for us?


If you think about it, we probably use the word love at least once every day (if not more). We say we love things: “I love donuts. I love chocolate cake. I love flowers. I love Lord of the Rings. I love my platypus stuffed animal…” You get the idea. We also say we love people: “I love my mom. I love my dad. I love my date. I love Jesus.” Is the love we have for things the same kind of love we have for people? Often it is.

When we say we “love” donuts, what does that mean? It means we really like them. We want to eat them. We want to consume them. We have strong positive feelings about them. Why? Because they taste good and give us pleasure. In other words, we like donuts because of what they do for us. Is this the same way we love people?

When we say we “love” another person, what do we mean by that? Often, it’s the same kind of “love” that we have toward donuts: the desire to consume or take pleasure in. 

It seems today that love is a temporary state of bliss. People “fall in love” and then people “fall out of love.” A boy will tell his girlfriend that he loves her and then “break-up” with her soon later, and vice versa. A couple will get married, then simply fall out of love, and divorce. People are desperately trying to find “true love.” They want to experience love, but no matter where they look, or how many people they date, they can’t seem to find it. What does this all mean?

What people are looking for is the emotion of love--the feeling of love. However, the funny thing about emotions is, they don’t last forever. No feeling is permanent. Emotions are as fickle as the weather. So if love is just a feeling, then love is not meant to last forever. The best we can do is jump from one emotional “love” high to the next. Commitment is not worth it.  
  
If we really break down the “love” we see today, we find that it is actually a very selfish phenomenon. We’re looking to feel something. We want the warm fuzzy feelings. We want the experience of “being in love.” It’s all about us. It feels good to feel strongly about another person, and it feels good to have another person feel strongly about us. “Love” today is just about filling our own needs. We completely neglect the other person. All we think about is ourselves.

We are deceived.

Wednesday, July 16, 2014

I Am A Sexist

My recent post describing the reasons why I don’t participate in ballroom dancing seems to have upset a lot of people. In fact, I was even called a legalist and a sexist. Someone needs to stop me because I don’t think it’s appropriate for me to hug or dance with girls outside my family. I'm dangerous. Yes, because I don’t feel like I have a right to touch and hold the bodies of girls and women, I must be a sexist.

Then I realized my scoffers are right. In today’s modern society, I am a sexist.
Being a sexist used to mean you believed one gender was superior to the other. This is now called “hostile sexism”. It’s pretty obvious to everyone today (except radical Feminists) that both genders are equal in value. The Bible confirms this in Genesis 1:27,
God created man in His own image, in the image of God He created him; male and female He created them.”

Clearly, both men and women are created in the image of God. Both men and women reflect God's character, so they are equal in value.

So I’m not a sexist, right? I believe men and women are equal in worth.

Wrong!

Today, you are also a sexist if you believe men and women are different, or that men and women should treat each other differently than members of their own gender. Many refer to this kind of “sexism” as “Benevolent sexism.” If that sounds confusing , just think “Chivalry.” Chivalry is considered benevolent sexism today.




“As it turns out, men and women are equally prone to holding benevolently sexist values (the idea that men should always open doors, or earn enough to support a woman, are two common examples).” – Prevention.com

In this case, I am guilty as charged. Why? Because biology and the Bible says so.

Monday, July 14, 2014

6 Reasons Why Boys Should Play Football

Ronald Reagan, “Going to college offered me the chance to play football for four more years.”

There seems to be an idea among some Christian homeschoolers that sports are bad, silly, or simply a waste of time.

I’ve even detected an attitude of haughty condescension at times, and the idea that, “I may not be athletic, but at least I’m not a dumb meathead and I have all ‘A’s.”

I can certainly understand this, “geeks will inherit the earth,” sort of perspective. It’s a natural backlash to our culture’s unhealthy obsession with sports, and indeed, there are a lot of negatives that have arisen out of the sports culture. But are sports themselves, bad? Are sports to be avoided by Christians?

I played football for 11 years, basketball for 7, soccer for several, and lacrosse for 1. Sports have been more a part of my life than writing, or homeschooling even. In fact, I voluntarily attended public school so I could play sports, and if you know anything about me or have read my blog, you know my opinion of public school is less than stellar.

This is not a, “Confessions of a Christian-homeschooler-sent-to-public-school-athlete,” article, which means I’m either stupid, crazy, a hypocrite, or maybe there was something about playing sports that justified my attendance at public school.

I believe my participation in so many different sports and for such a long period of time gives me a perspective that many who have never played sports, don’t have. From the outside, sports can look pretty bad. Many athletes tote around gigantic egos, men put “the game” ahead of responsibilities and family, and youth and scholastic sports teams generally are environments hostile to God; however, sports are not the problem. The problem is the people involved—or more specifically—sin. So often we mistake things for being sinful, when it’s often how we use them that is right or wrong.

I have been asked on multiple occasions by homeschooling moms my thoughts about sports (specifically football) and whether or not they should allow their sons to play. 

In a two-part series, I'm going to be going over a few reasons why I believe boys should and shouldn't play football. 

Part 1: 6 Reasons Why Boys Should Play Football:

Friday, July 11, 2014

Life, Liberty, And The Pursuit of What Makes Me Feel Good

Last week was the 4th of July, the day our Independence from Great Britain was proclaimed. Over 200 years ago, this independence was announced through a document which has been so often quoted since:

“We hold these truths to be self-evident, that all men are created equal, that they are endowed by their Creator with certain unalienable Rights, that among these are Life, Liberty and the pursuit of Happiness.”

We are all familiar with this famous line from the American Declaration of Independence. Not only is it arguably the most often quoted sentence from the document, it may also be the most widely misunderstood.

Today, “pursuit of happiness” has come to mean that we have the right to “do whatever makes us feel good.” In our world today, this line has come to be understood as our right to acquire wealth, status, and to do and marry whomever we please. “Happiness” as we understand it today, is not how Thomas Jefferson or the founding fathers meant it when they wrote it into the Declaration. Indeed, the “pursuit of happiness” is actually an ancient idea that isn’t native to the shores of North America.

Jefferson drew much of what he wrote in the Declaration of Independence from the English Enlightenment philosopher John Locke. Locke, in turn, drew his ideas about the “pursuit of happiness” from ancient Greek ethics.

The Greek word for ‘happiness’ is eudaimonia…Eudaimonia is linked to aretĂȘ, the Greek word for ‘virtue’ or ‘excellence.’ In the Nicomachean Ethics, Aristotle wrote, ‘the happy man lives well and does well; for we have practically defined happiness as a sort of good life and good action.’  Happiness is not, he argued, equivalent to wealth, honor, or pleasure. It is an end in itself, not the means to an end. The philosophical lineage of happiness can be traced from Socrates, Plato, and Aristotle through the Stoics, Skeptics, and Epicureans.”1

To translate, the Declaration really reads, “Life, Liberty, and the pursuit of goodness and/or virtue.” This is quite different from how our culture has come to think of it. Could this be why so many seem to lack happiness today? We’re searching for fulfillment in all the wrong places.