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Posts Tagged ‘lessons’

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The three “R’s” used to be readin’, ‘wrightin, and ‘rithmetic, right?  In home school, at least at my house, we have a different set of “R’s.” They are respect, reasoning, righteousness, and responsibility.  If I succeed at teaching them those things, I have zero doubt that my kids will succeed in whatever it is they choose to do in life.  Even if their paths and choices lead to failure, they will succeed in character, integrity, and wisdom if just these four things are instilled in them.

“Then Jesus said to him, ‘Be gone, Satan!’ For it is written, ‘You shall worship the Lord your God and him only shall you serve.'” ~Matthew 4:10

“What?!  Why would he say that?!” exclaims my indignant nine year-old.

“What?”

“Why would Jesus tell the devil to worship God?!  He will never do it!!”

“Just because we know someone is not going to listen does not mean God does not want us to tell them the truth.  Truth has two purposes.  One is grace for those who will listen and change by it.  The other is condemnation for those who will refuse it.

In other words, Jesus’ faithfulness in telling the truth of the scriptures to those who do not listen is actually what he will point to when he judges them.  It is not just sin that will condemn people, it will be also the saving grace God gave that was refused.

 The only sin listed in the Bible as unforgivable is the blasphemy of the Holy Spirit.  What that means is that when God shows up to teach us and offers His truth to us by grace and we disbelieve, dismiss, and ignore it, we cannot be forgiven because we have pulled the rug out from under the means by which he saves.  If we refuse the Spirit of God when it speaks plain truth to us, we stiff arm God’s grace and we remain in stubborn, willful darkness.

We must learn to love the truth, girls.  No matter how uncomfortable, difficult, or painful it may be for us to accept, we must always embrace truth.  Never refuse or put off the truth of God when you learn it.  The Bible says, “Working together with him, then, we appeal to you not to receive the grace of God in vain.  For he says, ‘In a favorable time I listened to you, and in a day of salvation I have helped you.  Behold, now is the favorable time; behold, now its the day of salvation.” ~2 Corinthians 6:1-2

There is a particular urgency to the truth.  Today is the day.  Don’t put it off.  Don’t wait one more second.  Take the truth to heart, now!  Today!  Do what is right, right away!  That is how we are to react when met with the truth.  Jesus is the Truth and he is the Way.  If we are following him, we must obey the truth, and obey it quickly.

The next day Bible class resumes.  We read Revelation chapter 16.

“Then I heard the angel of the waters say to God: ‘Holy One, you are the One who is and who was.  You are right to decide to punish these evil people.  They have spilled the blood of your holy people and your prophets.  Now you have given them blood to drink as they deserve.’  And I heard the altar say: ‘Yes, Lord God All-Powerful, the way you punish evil people is right and fair.'” ~Revelation 16:5-7

This time my seven year-old protests.

“Doesn’t God say ‘Don’t do bad things back to people when they do bad to you?!’ Why is he doing bad to the bad people?  He is disobeying himself!!!”

“God tells us not to take revenge.  The reason we are not allowed to take revenge is because he is going to.  He tells us not to repay evil with evil because if we do, we will be judged, too.  God has to punish evil and he will punish evil because he is just and fair.  He punished Jesus for our sins but those who do not love and obey Jesus will get their own punishment.”

“Education was, in fact, so important to the Puritans that it was required.  By 1642, parents were required to teach their young children to read so they could know the Scriptures…The purpose of teaching was to learn the Word of God and defeat Satan, who was the deluder.  So the law to teach was called the ‘Old Deluder Satan Act.'” ~Linda Lacour Hobar, Mystery of History, Vol. III

My lessons for the week are very clear.

1. Tell the truth even when your hearers refuse to listen.

2.Trust God to judge evil.

3.Remember that it is parents who are responsible for their children’s education.

4. The ultimate goal of educating children is knowing and understanding the Scriptures.

AMEN.

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Lessons for the week:

1. How to take a punch.  

2. How not to get hit.  

Even if you’re not into boxing, these are good life lessons to consider.  Evasion trumps Excedrin every time in my book, so I tend to favor the latter.  None the less, we practiced both last week.  

Two things stand out in my mind from our training sessions.  One is the kidney shot that felt like the end of my life, and the other is the sobering instruction on combination punches.  

“Don’t get hit with the first punch.  Because it’s not gonna be just one…the second, third, and fourth are coming right behind it.  If you get hit with a three or four punch combination, you’re done.  Even getting hit with a few hay-makers spread throughout the duration of the fight is better than getting hit consecutively.  Successive punches are the most devastating.  You will fall.”

Before the words even finished leaving Coach’s mouth, the concept was resonating in my heart with a vengeance.  If there’s one lesson I’ve learned the hard way it is that it does not matter how strong you are – if you take one blow after another without recovery time – be it in life or in the ring – you are going down hard eventually.  No one can stand strong forever under that kind of attack.  

I read Job for the better part of last year.  I studied his life in depth.  I desperately wanted to understand the reaction of a godly man to consecutive, devastating, combination blows to his life.  If there was ever a right reaction, Job’s was probably as close as it comes.  And I guess what it came down to in the end was the revelation of his utter inability to change or control anything – despite his diligence; despite his discipline; despite his strength; despite his goodness; despite his work; despite his earnestness; despite his prayers – despite all he had done right.   It all came down to dependence upon that which he could not see, hear, or, for quite a time, even find at all.  That’s one way to eliminate a God complex now isn’t it?  Right.

Perhaps boxing is the same.  I can’t say for sure.  I’ve never been bloody and beaten inside the ring yet.  But I have in life.  So, perhaps, in the end, when you’re spent but still with several rounds to go, perhaps that’s when you learn to depend on someone outside yourself.  Maybe that’s when all the voices stop, all the second guessing subsides, all the questions cease to matter, and you finally begin to truly hear the only one who’s really in your corner anyway.  Maybe that’s when real trust is born.

Ideally, don’t get hit with the first punch.  Practically, train by taking some I-feel-like-I-just-got-hit-by-a-truck taps from your trainer.  Realistically, learn who is really in your corner and how to trust him even when life’s devastating combinations have made you blind, deaf, and dumb to everything you thought you knew.  Perhaps that is where he is truly found.  

Though he slay me, I will hope in him;
    yet I will argue my ways to his face. ~Job 13:15

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I survived my first week of training.  I lost a few pounds and gained a few insights.  I have to admit, throwing punches at a real person takes some getting used to.  It’s one thing when you’ve got beef.  It’s another when you’ve got nothing but appreciation, admiration, and respect.  It is not natural.  It’s hard to get in the right frame of mind.  You have to focus on something other than that human being.  You have to focus on your mission; your position; your goal.  

“Frankie liked to say that boxing was an unnatural act, that everything in boxing is backwards. Sometimes best way to deliver punches is step back. But step back too far, you ain’t fighting at all.” ~Eddie Scrap On Dupris in Million Dollar Baby

You know what is even more unnatural?  Being jabbed at.  How about being jabbed at by a dude twice your size, ten times your strength; skill; speed; knowledge; precision and who possesses all the skill and experience you have not even begun to learn yet.  

“I wanna run away from you, Coach!  I’m scared!  You’re stalking me down!  I got nothin’!”

“You do not run!  Never run.  You wanna fight?  Fight!  You wanna run?  Get out on the road.  You might as well give it up.”

For a wanna-be fighter who has an extremely poor defense and only knows how to play offense when when the opponent is a stationary, lifeless bag, I needed to hear that.  For a girl who has spent her entire life running – both literally and figuratively – Coach has something here that I desperately need to learn.  

Never run.  Fight.

I love to run.  Running is my favorite activity when I’m happy, sad, mad, or ready to implode.  Running gives me clarity.  It relieves stress.  It gives me peace and time to meet with my Maker; to pray; to decompress; to re-prioritize.  

Running does other things, too, though.  Running avoids.  Running ignores.  Running fails to deal with what’s still waiting at the finish line.  Running makes a kind of pseudo peace even though it knows there’s a stalker standing inside the ring who must eventually be dealt with.  It’s an extremely poor defense when you are confined to a ring surrounded by fire.

The Lord is using my very amateur attempts to learn how to box to teach me what to do when running is not the answer.  

Running may save me from pain in the moment sometimes, but it will never keep me from feeling the pain in proximity to the problem day in and day out.  I’m going to keep getting burned on those flaming ropes if I continue trying to run from the fight.  The truth is, I’m going to need some offense.  Poor defense is not sufficient to win the match of life.  

Our culture has all but lost its ability and desire to debate, discuss, dissect, and deal well with its opponents.  Instead, we run.  We hide in flaming corners getting burned by our own foolish defense.  We must fight for the truth by staying in it no matter how small of an underdog we seem to be.  

Running has its place, but so does fighting.  You will not fight if you keep running loosely lodged in you back pocket.  You will not run if you are a real fighter.    When you begin to realize that the shame of deserting is far worse than the pain of getting beat up, you cease to run and you learn to fight to the very end.  

I want to be a real fighter.  I want to be able to run without needing to.  I want to learn how to focus so fully on my mission; my goal; my God that it no longer matters how I feel about my opponent.  Whether I love, hate, fear, or have neutrality towards him, I want to be able to lay it down and strike at the heart of that fighter every single time.  Then, I will be of use to my manager.  Then I will not need to run no matter how badly I am beaten.  Then I will have the heart of a true fighter.  

“In the clearing stands a boxer 
And a fighter by his trade 
And he carries the reminders 
Of ev’ry glove that layed him down 
Or cut him till he cried out 
In his anger and his shame 
“I am leaving, I am leaving” 
But the fighter still remains. ~Simon and Garfunkel

 

 

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I’ve had exactly one lesson.  Aside from a couple years of kickboxing, shadowboxing, and beating my belligerence out on the heavy bag, I do not know the first thing about boxing.  I’ve been in four street fights – only two of which I was the aggressor.  This is not the same.  I am hardly qualified to teach anyone anything about boxing.  Nevertheless, here is what I learned on day one.

My stance is wrong.  My angle of impact is wrong.  My position is wrong.  I do not protect myself properly.  My balance is off, and, if I enter a fight uncorrected, it will hurt.  A lot.  Truth be told, it will hurt anyway.  Like teach told me – boxing hurts.  

You know what he didn’t tell me though?  He didn’t say, “Your stance is wrong.”  He said, “Stand like this.  Good!”  He didn’t say, “Your angle is wrong.”  He said, “Press in and hold your punch.  Can you feel how your angle corrected?”  He didn’t say, “Your position is wrong.”  He said, “Turn your body away from me…like this.  Don’t leave yourself wide open like that.  Better!”  He didn’t say, “You’re gonna know it if you keep trying to protect yourself like that.”  He said, “Hold your protecting fist flush against your face.  It will hurt less if there is contact.”  He did not laugh when my wretched excuse for balance left me lying on the floor.   He gently reminded me how important balance is. He did not allow me to continue throwing the wrong kind of punches when he saw that I was bleeding. He wiped my blood up off the floor and showed me something else. 

I cannot imagine how utterly ridiculous I looked to this guy (and my husband who sat watching the whole sitcom.)  But I do believe I learned more about life – particularly the Christian life – than I have in a long time.

Teach said two things that I doubt I will find myself soon forgetting.  He said, “Boxing is a game of windows.  You have a split second to make your move and then the window closes.”  He also said, “Boxing is war.  It may not seem like it to those who think it is just a sport, but when you are in that ring, you feel it.  It is war.”

Life is a game of windows.  We have momentary, fleeting opportunities to get this thing right.  The Christian life is war.  Those who do not see it as such are not engaged.  And we who are engaged have a monumental choice when it comes to teaching the privates entering boot camp how to fight fair.  Boxing is offensive and defensive at the same time.  So is the Christian life.  We can discourage and destroy others with heavy-handed defense or we can train and encourage them so patiently and respectfully that it makes even our offensive moves kind.  

That’s the kind of teacher I want to be.  That’s the kind of trainer I want to become.  I imagine I will have a lot more blood on my face and hands even if I do it the right way.  I might even look like a big disgrace at times.  But the war is worthy of my all.  I refuse to stop fighting.  I just have to better learn how.  Quitting is not an option in war time.  I will persevere.

I will instruct you and teach you in the way you should go;
    I will counsel you with my eye upon you. ~Psalm 32:8

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=VcCaTXcwh9w

 

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“What’s an enemy, Mommy?”

 “An enemy is someone or something that opposes you or hurts you.  It’s something that is against you.”

“Like a turtle?”

“A turtle?” 

“Yeah, like when a turtle thinks something is going to hurt it, how he pokes his head back into his shell.”

“Oh, yes.  You’re exactly right.  When a turtle is afraid of an enemy, he hides in his shell.”

As Addie continued reading her word list, she came across a few more words that sparked her interest.  

“Loudest.  That’s definitely me, Mommy.”

“Slower.  That’s definitely Mia.”

“New.  That’s Maylee, Mommy.”

“Why is Mia ‘slower?’ ”  

” ‘Cause she takes forever with her math problems.”

“Her math problems are harder than yours and she has more than you do.  And why is Maylee ‘new’?”  

“Because she’s the newest person in our family.”

Just then Mia came down from upstairs and handed me her math.  What constitutes a power-struggle, a tear or two, and a small miracle to accomplish most days, today was finished obediently, quickly, and correctly.  On her workbook page she had written, “Thank you Mom I rily liked my problems” with a happy face drawn.

My first thought was that I had suffered a concussion I couldn’t recall and had become delusional.  My second thought was speculation about whether I’d unknowingly stepped into the twilight zone.  But, no, Mia was quite sincere.

I got to thinking…what if I stopped thinking of my “problems” as my enemies?  What if I stopped being such a hard-shelled hider at every inclining of fear or frustration?  What if I began to thank my Father for my most difficult dilemmas and most perplexing problems?  What if I stopped reacting with self-inflicted solitude every time I encountered an unwanted enemy?  Maybe I could learn that being “slower” is often better than being “loudest.”  Maybe I could please my Father’s heart more and grieve us both less.  

But what am I to do when I’ve got a page full of problems and a tempting tendency to turn into a tenacious turtle?

Well, when the girls get into a fight, my little one, Maylee, will always come crying to me and tell me, “Addie is bein’ bad to me!” or “Mia is bein’ bad to me!”  Sooner or later I usually figure out just who is really bein’ bad to whom.  In fact, just this very moment she has come to me crying and informed me, “Mommy, I am heartbroken.”  

(Hearing a three-year-old sob and say that is priceless, I just have to say.)  “Heartbroken? Why, sweetie?”

“Because Mia broke my heart and now I’m heartbroken.”

“Mia, what on earth is she talking about?”

“I gave her a hug and said I’m sorry.  I promised her I’d make her a new one.”

“What?! How are you going to make her a new one?”

“It was a paper heart that said, ‘I love Jesus’ and I accidentally ripped it when I shut the door on it.”

Fair enough.  I get it, Lord.  Maybe if I start trusting you like Maylee trusts me, I could remember to run to you instead of my hard outer shell when trouble starts.  Maybe I could learn to let you sort out how much “badness” I’m responsible for and how much my adversaries are responsible for.  Maybe I could start trusting you to discipline and correct those who really do “be bad to me” and stop thinking I have to do it myself.  Maybe, just maybe, I could even stop being so extremely heartbroken.  I don’t know.  But I do know one thing…loudest isn’t working.  Slower isn’t ideal.  New is what I long to be.

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