Wednesday, December 17, 2014

"But Mary treasured up all these things and pondered them in her heart."

A couple years ago my daughter walked into her bedroom to find balloons & confetti everywhere – all over her bed, all over the floor, all over the dresser.  And there on her bed was a sign asking her to prom.  She looked around, then read the sign, and then quietly sat on her bed. 

Taking it all in, she smiled and treasured the scene up in her heart and thought about her response.

Hours earlier, before she had come home, her sister had peeked into that same room, and seeing what had been done, she screamed in excitement for her sister.

A couple months later the kids and I flew back from visiting my brother.  We arrived at the airport around 2 in the morning on a school night.  My daughters’ boyfriends had decided to surprise them by meeting them at the airport.  

One daughter, as soon as she saw her boyfriend, screamed and ran to him to give him a big hug, nearly knocking him down.  The other daughter calmly smiled, walked to her boyfriend, said “hi,” and hugged him.  

Two people. .. two very different responses in both scenes.

I was reminded of these two scenes this week, and while talking about them with my girls, it brought to mind another scene – in Luke.

You know the story well.  An angel came to some shepherds to announce Jesus’ birth.  Then the shepherds decide to go find the baby Jesus.
So they hurried off and found Mary and Joseph, and the baby, who was lying in the manger. When they had seen him, they spread the word concerning what had been told them about this child, and all who heard it were amazed at what the shepherds said to them. But Mary treasured up all these things and pondered them in her heart.” (Luke 2:16-19)

What the shepherds did was great!  They hurried off to find baby Jesus, they spread the word concerning Him, they glorified and praised God. 
But Mary treasured up these things in her heart.
I LOVE THAT!!  She didn't FEEL any less than the shepherds just because she quietly took in what she saw and heard, storing it up in her heart – all the amazing acts of God, the words spoken to her by angels and prophets, the reactions of those who heard and those who came to see & worship Jesus. 
And we can learn from that. 
Yes, there are times for praising & glorifying God and telling others of His great works, and ideally that would be often.  But we also need to take time to just quietly fill up our hearts with the Words and acts of God. 
Because what’s in our hearts matters! Proverbs tells us that EVERYTHING we do flows from it.
And Luke 6:45 says: “The good person out of the good treasure of his heart produces good, and the evil person out of his evil treasure produces evil, for out of the abundance of the heart his mouth speaks.”
We all store things in our hearts – memories, feelings, words read or spoken.   We store negative things in our hearts as well as positive things. 
It’s important to be careful what we store in our hearts.
Proverbs instructs us to overlook an offense or insult; that is, refuse to store it up in our hearts.  Care in what we read or listen to also protect the storage rooms of our hearts.  We can choose not to store up negative things in our hearts, but it has to be a deliberate choice.
We should also make a deliberate choice to store up God’s Word in our hearts.
Psalm 119:11 says: “I have hidden your word in my heart that I might not sin against you.” 
If our hearts are so full of God’s Words, there will be less room for anything negative.  Then good things will flow from us to others.
But Mary also pondered what she had stored in her heart. 
To ponder means to weigh in the mind; to view with deliberation; to examine carefully; to consider attentively, to meditate on.
It’s not enough just to have the Word in our hearts. 
We need to meditate on it,
Examine it carefully to understand it,
Consider it attentively to apply it to our lives.
A couple scriptures to remember:
2 Timothy 3:16 “Every scripture is inspired by God and useful for teaching, for reproof, for correction, and for training in righteousness.”  

Philippians 4:8  "Finally, brothers, whatever is true, whatever is noble, whatever is right, whatever is pure, whatever is lovely, whatever is admirable-if anything is excellent or praiseworthy-think about such things." 

“I think it matters what we choose to treasure up and ponder in our hearts: treasuring problems leads to anxiety, treasuring hope yields joy.” –John Richmond

Wednesday, December 3, 2014

Socialization and the Thief on the Cross

Those of you who have homeschooled have probably heard it time and time again.
Those of you who are against homeschooling have probably said it time and time again.

"What about socialization?"

It is the most common argument against homeschooling.  Because obviously homeschooled children have no social opportunities whatsoever and must grow up to be totally socially inept.  And just as obvious, a child can only learn how to act properly in social situations if with children within 12 months of his age.


Those of you who believe that baptism is a necessary part of salvation have probably heard it time and time again.
Those of you who don't believe that baptism is a part of salvation and one is saved by faith alone have probably said it time and time again.

"What about the thief on the cross?"

The narrative of the thief on the cross can be found in Luke 23:39-43.  I'm sure you remember it well. Two criminals were crucified with Jesus, one on each side.  One was mocking Jesus, saying, "Aren't you the Christ? Save yourself and us!" 

But the other rebuked the first, saying, "Don't you fear God since you are under the same sentence? We are punished justly, for we are getting what our deeds deserve. But this man has done nothing wrong."  Then he asked Jesus to remember him when He came into His kingdom.

Jesus response was, "I tell you the truth, today you will be with me in paradise."  

So obviously this thief on the cross was saved. And obviously he didn't need to be baptized to be saved.  TADA!!!  Baptism is not a necessary part of salvation.  


So, what about socialization?  I find it hard to believe that anyone actually would say that a child can only be properly socialized if in a classroom of people within a year of the child's age day after day. 
My children were socialized in a variety of situations:  dance class, church, youth group, family, swim team, swim lessons, homeschool coops, grocery stores, Costco, nursing homes, work, service projects, etc.  My children were actually socialized around young children, children their age, children older than they, adults, and the elderly.  Doesn't that seem like socialization to you?  

I have seen the same examples you have in the news of the homeschooling parents who hide their kids away, use homeschooling as a cover for their educational and oftentimes emotional and physical abuse.  But that should be used as the rule for judging homeschooling about as much as the high school drop out or the school shooter should be used to judge public schooling.  

And now, what about the thief on the cross.  He was with Jesus in paradise on the day he died, without baptism, so. . . .baptism isn't necessary for salvation, right?

But let's look at what baptism is a bit more closely before we jump to that conclusion, shall we?

Romans 6:3-5 reads, "Or don't you know that all of us who were baptized into Christ Jesus were baptized into his death? We were therefore buried with him through baptism into death in order that, just as Christ was raised from the dead through the glory of the Father, we too may live a new life.  If we have been united with him like this in his death, we will certainly also be united with him in his resurrection."

Colossians 2:12 speaks of baptism as being buried with Jesus and being raised with Him through faith in the power of God who raised Jesus from the dead.

So Christian baptism is dying, being buried in a watery grave, and being resurrected into new life in Christ.  

To put it plainly, the thief on the cross didn't need to be baptized into Christ's death because Jesus hadn't died yet!  Doesn't get much easier than that, huh?

Jesus hadn't commanded baptism yet, either.  He did so AFTER His resurrection (Matthew 26, Mark 16).

But wait, there's more!!  

That Christian baptism hadn't been instituted yet is enough of a reason to say that the thief on the cross didn't need to be baptized to be saved and to lay to rest the argument "what about the thief on the cross?" as an argument against the necessity of baptism.  

But there is another very good reason that using the "what about the thief on the cross?" argument is not a reasonable or valid argument.  

Jesus is GOD!  He can do whatever He wants. 

The thief on the cross was not the first person Jesus gave salvation to during His time on earth before His death and resurrection (for salvation is the forgiveness of sins which lead to death, right?).  

You can read in Luke 5 about a paralytic whose sins Jesus forgave.  And in Luke 7: 48 and 50 Jesus tells a sinful woman, "Your sins are forgiven." and "Your faith has saved you."

Jesus has the power to forgive sins and extend salvation whenever and to whomever He wants.  He has always had that power.  And He has the right to decide how one receives salvation and told us in His Word.  


These two common arguments are both so easily disproved, and yet are still almost always the first arguments posed against homeschooling and against baptism's necessity in salvation.  

In fact, my first response to the "ludicrous" idea that baptism was necessary in salvation was: "What about the thief on the cross?"  And the answer was so obvious once explained to me.  It makes me wonder why I would have ever used the thief on the cross as my proof against the necessity of baptism.  It also makes me wonder what other "standard answers" to other questions I have about the Bible & theology I have accepted without thinking it through.  

And I still hear "What about socialization?" 14 years of homeschooling three well-socialized children.  

People are so quick to judge what they don't understand, what goes against what is the norm.  And people are so quick to defend their own understandings lest they have to admit they have been misguided.  But one should never just accept the party line without comparing how it measures up to the truth.