February 26, 2021

Shepherding Our Families as Trustees for God

Shepherding Our Families as Trustees for God

by Craig Smith
There is a vision which, to the extent that this vision
is thoroughly Biblical, we men must learn to see and
then learn to embrace. Read on and see what you think.
We are trustees, put on this earth to look after and be
stewards of everything God has created, and more
specifically, those things which He has Providentially
placed into our hands and under our roofs. Being a
trustee is different from being a creator or an owner or
an employee or a slave. Ultimate owners and all creators
have total control over those things they totally
own or totally created. All decisions they make, even
when consulting only themselves, in regard to how
these things they own or created are allowed to exist,
utilised or destroyed – including human life – are perfectly
valid and proper. Employees and slaves have
only a minimum of responsibility toward those things
in their care: their daily activities consist overwhelmingly
in doing as they are told.
Being a trustee is different. We have a lot of responsibility,
nearly total responsibility, over those things of
which we are trustees or stewards. When the owner of
these things returns, He will require of us an accounting
as to how we looked after His goods. You’ve heard
all this before. Re-read the parable of the ten pounds or
ten minas in Luke 19:11-27.
Being trustees means we don’t ultimately own anything:
not our properties, our families, our health: these
are all rightly the property of Almighty God. He gives
us both commands and guidelines as to how to steward
these things, but He also leaves us in the dark as to
much of their final disposition. However, the Lord
does give us also the ultimate purposes for which we
are to be stewarding all these things He delivers into
our trustee care: to bring praise and glory to His Son,
our Lord Jesus Christ (I Corinthians 10:31; Colossians
3:17), seeking first His Kingdom and His Righteousness
(Matthew 6:33).
The Lord God has peculiarly supplied His people with
the authority and the tools we will need to accomplish
our stewardship successfully. In I Peter 2:9 we are told
that we are “A chosen race, a royal priesthood, a holy
nation, God’s own people, that you may declare the
wonderful deeds of Him Who called you out of darkness
into His marvellous light.” There’s the idea of
praising Him again. And also that we are commissioned
as a royal priesthood, holy nation, God’s own people,
etc., giving one the impression that we should be easy
to identify. If we are declaring His marvellous deeds all
the time, that will set us apart. And in Matthew 28:18-20,
the Great Commission, our Lord Jesus tells us to go and
make disciples of all nations, baptising them in His Triune
Name and teaching them to obey all His commands.
II Corinthians 3:18 says we who have had the veil lifted
“are being changed into His likeness from one degree
of glory to another, for this comes from the Lord Who is
the Spirit.” Paul sets us an example to follow, I believe,
when he says in Philippians 3:13-14, “But one thing I
do, forgetting what lies behind and straining forward to
what lies ahead, I press on toward the goal for the prize
of the upward call of God in Christ Jesus.”
We are being changed by His Spirit into His likeness,
straining ever onward and upward. I dare say, this will
certainly set us apart and attract attention. As a city set
on a hill cannot be hidden or a lamp not hidden away
but set on a stand (Matthew 5:14-15), as “children of
God without blemish in the midst of a crooked and perverse
generation, among whom you shine as lights in
the world, holding fast the word of life” (Philippians
2:15-16), we will not only attract attention and be a
beacon in the night…we’ll be pretty obvious targets for
the enemy as well!
You know, if we are doing all this as we are supposed
to be doing it, our lives will start to resemble that of the
Lord Jesus: always telling others of His Father in
heaven, emphasising the difference between worldly
ways and God’s right ways and showing even some of
the religious folks up as hypocrites. And worst of all,
making enemies and catching flak because, just like
Christ, we become such a big, easy-to-identify target.
Hey, I think we’re on to something here. Aren’t we
promised persecution and suffering as Christians?
Plenty of times! See II Timothy 3:12, I Peter 5:9, Acts
14:22, Romans 8:17. The Apostles rejoiced in that they
were counted worthy to suffer for the Name of Christ
(Acts 5:41). So, to summarize: it seems that we are expected
to do a job or fulfil a role on earth, whatever our
daily vocation might be, that closely parallels the job
our Lord did on earth. And if we are doing the same
job as He did , we can expect the same working conditions.
So how does this relate to being trustees? Trustees are
acting in the place of the true owner/creator. Jesus,
while in the appearance of a mere man, was the Creator
and Sustainer of the Universe, the King of kings and
Lord of lords. Yet He caught flak and was hounded and
persecuted when He was on this earth. If we’re doing
the same job as He did, representing the interests of our
Lord and our God, as apparently we’re called to do,
we’ll catch flak too. Yes, He drew adoring crowds
(though they had mixed motives which He did not
trust – John 2:23-25 & 6:15), but whether we draw
such crowds or not, we have been promised that we’ll
draw flak. Why? Because of this aspect of being a trustee:
we represent God’s claim to rule over every square
inch of the earth and to reign over every human institution
ever established. If we were just doing our own
thing, like all the unbelievers around us; if we were just
engaged in a hobby religion, like so many others; if we
were managing our possessions and families and careers
and sports involvements as our peers do, for their
own personal enjoyment or personal objectives, there
would be no hassle. But as representatives of Christ,
we are making it clear that every square inch of dirt we
manage, every relationship we have, every ounce of
influence we carry in every sphere we inhabit is done
for Christ’s glory (not for my personal reasons) and to
proclaim that He is Lord of that dirt, those relationships
and spheres of influence. This is offensive, because
if Christ is Lord over all these things, it means
He has claim over all those people who share those
things, and as Lord, He can and will call them to account
for their involvement with His property. That is
the prerogative of Lordship.
We rarely think of this aspect of Jesus being Lord: that
He is the unrivalled Sovereign, Lord and Master over
everything; but that’s what it means.
When our lives are lived in such a way that He is
clearly proclaimed Lord over all we do, it is a reproach
and offensive to those around us in precisely the same
way that declaring we are home educators is a reproach
and offensive to many of the non-home educating parents
we meet. They know a home educator’s investment
in his children is generally vastly superior to their
own, and the implication that they really should be doing
the same is a reproach, and the further implication
that they need to sacrifice their current lifestyle for the
sake of their children makes them feel so guilty they
get angry.
It appears these days to be particularly offensive if, as
trustees of our families, we men shepherd and guide
our wives and children into the same regimen of obedience
and conformity to Christ’s requirements as we
adopt for ourselves. We do this because our lives are
not our own, we were bought with a price (I Corinthians
6:19-20), and so we are now mere trustees of our
lives which are now to be lived for Christ (Galatians
2:20, Romans 12:1). Our wives and children are not
our own but belong likewise to God, Who has given
them into our care that we might shepherd and steward
and husband them for Christ. “For the husband is the
head of the wife as Christ is the head of the
church,” (Ephesians 5:23). It is our duty, men, to direct
the lives of our wives and children in the manner indicated
by the Scriptures.
Two big areas of offence are presented by this. First,
that a husband dare direct his wife. Whatever we may
personally think about it, the Scriptures are clear about
the different roles of husband and wife, so we all need
to submit to what the Lord’s Bible tells us to do. It
seems to me that husbands have a far greater problem
with assuming their responsibility as heads of the
household than wives do of submitting to their husbands’
authority. Ever since the Lord pronounced the
curse upon the ground and that we men would have to earn
our living by the sweat of our brows, we’ve been
looking for ways to dodge the work, get out of or minimise
every responsibility we can. We are very susceptible
to the temptation to see our life’s task as the fulfilment
of personal peace, pleasure and prosperity. And
how could we be criticised for providing our wives and
children with peace, pleasure and prosperity? How?
This is how: because God does not direct us to seek
these things, but to seek first His Kingdom and His
Righteousness (Matthew 6:33)…lead on, men.
The second area of offence is that either mums or dads
would dare direct their children so closely. Children
are today assumed to be autonomous (self-ruling) and
that they should have the same “rights” as adults, subject
to considerations of appropriate maturity. As soon
as parents give their children over to the state school
system, the children are taught this. Sadly many home
educating parents treat their children the same way,
since they too have imbibed this notion. Christian parents
should have none of it: “Children, obey your parents
in the Lord, for this is right,” we are told in Ephesians
6:1. Which means parents must be laying down
the law for their children’s guidance and instruction.
There is a fact of life that we parents need to come to
grips with: our children will be brainwashed by somebody
or something: that is, their developing minds will
be biased in this way or that way by the attitudes and
values and instruction given them as they grow and
develop. We parents have the responsibility to direct
who and what does this to our children, and as Christian
home educators it seems to me we should unapologetically
ensure that we parents establish in our children’s
hearts and minds the presuppositions and biases,
the attitudes and values the Scriptures tell us they need
to have. I never gave my children the idea that they had
a choice to obey God or not, to do as the Bible and
their parents required of them or not, to be honest or
not, to steal or not. No. They had the same duty as their
mum and dad, I told them: to whole-heartedly and consistently
obey God in an ever-increasingly faithful
manner. Yes, we will fail now and then, but it is a
moral weakness, a sin, when we do, for it shows that
we listened to and sinfully yielded to the voice of the
tempter. When we do what we know is wrong or neglect
to do what we know is right, it is not an autonomous
choice: it is a moral failure, a falling into slavery
to sin, acting unfaithfully toward God. Such a thing is
so abominable, the Scriptures compare it to adultery.
So we shouldn’t copy the world and talk to our children
as the world does about “making responsible, informed
choices” in life: we train our children and ourselves
to perform our duties to God.
As trustees of ourselves and our families and of our
family name, reputation and the heritage we have received
from the Lord – just like the fellows in the parable
who received the pounds or talents, men – we are
expected to do our best to improve and purify and
sanctify these things entrusted to us by God. He will
call us to account. And we will eventually pass all
these things on to our heirs. They too must be trained
up – by us – to steward and husband these things as a
trustee for the same Lord God. We must be done with
the “do your own thing” mentality we most likely grew
up with and hear all around us. We keep our family
close and hand-craft our family unit into a team of
workers committed to helping one another achieve the
common Biblical vision, shared by every member of
the family, as imparted by us, the fathers. God Himself
appointed us to be the heads of households. We are to
ensure our families enhance the vision and extend the
borders of the Christian heritage delivered to us
(through family growth and evangelism) and to pass it
on for the next generation for them to increase it even
further. And so on until Christ returns to receive from
our descendants’ hands that which is His, that over
which we were trustees for Him during our tenure on
earth.
(Craig & Barbara Smith have been home educating their 8
children in Palmerston North, NZ, since the first was born in
1980. They helped establish local support groups, published
materials, spoke at conferences and ran several national
Christian home education conferences before going to work
full time for the Home Education Foundation in 1998.)

From Keystone Magazine

April 2008, Vol. XIV No. 74
P O Box 9064
Palmerston North
Phone: (06) 357-4399
Fax: (06) 357-4389
email: craig@hef.org.nz

To order a subscription to Keystone Magazine do one of the following:

send email to sales@hef.org.nz with visa number

post cheque or visa number to PO Box 9064, Palmerston North, New Zealand

fax: 06 357-4389

phone: 06 357-4399

Trademe (fees added):  http://www.trademe.co.nz/Members/Listings.aspx?member=2366144

Sella (No added fees):  http://www.sella.co.nz/store/4ym9qg/home-education-foundation/display-100

An Approach to the Teaching of Reading – part 1

An Approach to the Teaching of Reading

by Craig Smith
This skill is absolutely basic and foundational. It is not
a “subject” one might choose to teach, such as the subjects
of Science or History. It is more foundational than
either of these subjects, for it is a skill that must be
mastered. It is not a negotiable item on your home education
curriculum. Why?
First, the Lord reveals Himself, His glory and wisdom
specifically and especially in the written Word, the Bible.
It is far superior to His general revelation of Himself
in the creation. It is different also from how He
reveals Himself in His Son, our Lord and Saviour Jesus
Christ. It is obvious and clear to all that our God expects
us to be readers so that we can read of His works,
His wisdom, His character, His intructions, ordinances,
precepts, laws, commands and love letters to us, for
unless we do, He will remain mostly a mystery to us.
Second, one who cannot read is not just limited, he is
positively crippled. He or she is cut off from so much
useful and pleasurable information that our Lord in His
Providence has provided for us: factual, fictional, instructional,
devotional, inspirational, technical, historical,
biographical, poetical, documentary and more
kinds of literature are denied to the one who cannot
read.
Third, reading is one of the Three Rs of Reading, wRiting
and aRithmetic, acknowledged for centuries as the
starting foundation blocks of education. (It is interesting
to note that in the brand-new, 2007 New Zealand
Curriculum statement, the one replacing the previous
7-volume version, the word “reading” only appears
twice in the entire 49-page document. In addition writing
and arithmetic are also downgraded. Reading is
now one of the “receptive skills of listening, reading
and viewing” and writing is now one of “the productive
skills of speaking, writing and presenting or performing.”
“Arithmetic” does not appear at all in the
New Zealand Curriculum. “Mathematics” is the term
used. It appears 14 times, 13 of which in the same
phrase “mathematics and statistics”. The 14th time is
the following definition: “Mathematics is the exploration
and use of patterns and relationships in quantities,
space, and time.” It is no longer even a skill.)
So how do we parents go about teaching this essential
skill of reading to our little children?

1. Read to your children.

This immediately opens their minds to the fact that lots
of good things are locked up on the printed page. It
increases their listen-ing vocabulary. This becomes
evident later on when they become able to incorporate
these words into their spoken vocabulary. This means
that our children will have a listening vocabulary, that
is, the ability to mostly comprehend what is read and
spoken to them, far above the level of their speaking
vocabulary. It means they take in far more than we
normally expect for one of their age.
This also means we need not be afraid of reading to
them books which one might think at first are way beyond
their “level”. We read “Pilgrim’s Progress” and
Gulliver’s Travels” to our older children when they
were only aged 4 to 8. It was in the Old English, King
James kind of thing, which we found personally really
difficult to read at first. But the children loved it! We
never told them it would be difficult to understand;
they didn’t know it was supposed to be way beyond
them according to some opinions; they just figured it
was part of the way life was, that it was important or
worth something since it was Mum and Dad who were
feeding it to them. It was simply accepted and enjoyed.
There are many other good bonding and instructional
benefits that accompany reading aloud to your children
which have been addressed in earlier articles in Keystone.
But note that I am not talking about reading with
my finger under each word and expecting the child to
follow along that he or she will learn to read in that
way. This is akin to the “look-say” or “look-guess”
method which, in my opinion, has caused the epidemic
of 25% of primary children in state schools ending up
in reading recovery programmes. It is expecting children
to memorise the look and shape of words, as if
English was not a phonetic language but a pictogram
language such as Chinese. Don’t go this route, folks.

2. Be readers yourselves.

You want your children to be so convinced about the
importance and the pleasure of reading that they will
never question its value. If they grow up in a home
environment where reading was just part of the
wallpaper, an integral, everyday activity like breathing,
you won’t have to lecture them on it.

3. Teach them the alphabet.

Make up your own flash cards with the capital letters on
one side and the lower case ones on the other side.
Teach your children the proper names of the letters, not
just the sounds the letters make. That comes later. I’ve
heard some say we should not unnecessarily confuse our
children by teaching them the names, such as “double u”
for W, “aitch” for H or “why” for Y since these names bear
no resemblance to the sounds they make, and it is just
clogging up their minds with extraneous information.
Not so. Why do we underestimate the intellectual capabilities
of our children? They are created in the likeness
of the Omniscient God, remember. Certainly none will
come within a million miles of God’s wisdom, and certainly
some children seem brighter than others, but virtually
all have intellectual capacities and potentials
which few of us even imagine possible.
Teach the letter names! Then they can clearly communicate
with you and others as to which letter is being
asked about when they have questions. Teach the capitals
first because, since these are the first they will
learn, they will never forget them. This is important
because later on when they come across rarely used or
seen capital letters in their reading and writing — such
as Y or Q or Z — they will not be stumped nor have to
ask you to tell them but will effortlessly remember
them. Because they will see and use the lower case letters
far more often, they will be thoroughly learned by
repetition anyway.
Drill them with the flash cards in various ways until
they know both capitals and lower case inside-out,
backwards and forwards and upside down. Start by doing
them in alphabetical order. Then do them randomly.
Make it a game: you hold the cards, and when
they get it right (first time, without any wrong guesses),
you hand the card to them to hold. If they get it wrong,
it goes to the back of the pile to come up again. Once
they’re pretty good at this, time them to see how fast
they can do the whole pack, this time giving only one
shot at each card, keeping track of how many were
done right and how many were done wrong. Our children
loved to see their progress in getting fewer wrong
and more right in less time. Do this with the capitals
first and then do it with the lower case letters until they
know them all thoroughly.

4. Teach the letter sounds.

I am not a purist here. Near enough is probably good
enough, I reckon. Hey, I speak with an American accent
(even after my 35 years of immersion in Kiwi-speak).
My wife Barbara speaks with a Kiwi South Island accent.
We are required to listen to and understand a multitude
of other accents on a daily basis. OK, maybe I’m just lazy.
But when I see the multitude of sounds assigned to each
vowel in some dictionaries, I simply shudder and shut down.
English spelling and pronunciation do have rules. Yes,
there are exceptions, and we should endeavour to teach
the exceptions. But I’m not going to strain every word
in our huge vocabulary for every single rule, every single
exception, every single variation of pronunciation.
This is especially true with the many words of foreign
origin which emphatically do not follow English rules
of pronunciation. So if you can simply point out that
“police” does not rhyme with “lice” or “ice” because
police has a foreign origin (Greek) and that there appears
to be no comprehensible link between the spelling
and pronunciation of both “beautiful” and “beau”
because they come from the French language, well,
that should suffice as an explanation for your children.
And “one”, “two”, “done”, “come”, “some” and other
such common words don’t follow the spelling rules
most probably because of laziness in constant, common
use (it being easier to say “too” for “two” instead of
“twoe” as normal pronunciation rules would require).
(To be continued.)
Craig was born and grew up in Sanger (near Fresno), California,
came to New Zealand as a 21-year-old in 1973 and
has lived here ever since. He has a BA in Social Policy from
Massey University. He and Barbara have four natural children,
three by adoption and one permanently fostered, aged
from 27 down to two, all being exclusively home educated
from day one. Craig & Barbara established Christian Home
Schoolers of NZ in 1986 which later became the Home Education
Foundation.

From Keystone Magazine

January 2008, Vol. XIV No. 73
P O Box 9064
Palmerston North
Phone: (06) 357-4399
Fax: (06) 357-4389
email: craig@hef.org.nz

To order a subscription to Keystone Magazine do one of the following:

send email to sales@hef.org.nz with visa number

post cheque or visa number to PO Box 9064, Palmerston North, New Zealand

fax: 06 357-4389

phone: 06 357-4399

Trademe (fees added):  http://www.trademe.co.nz/Members/Listings.aspx?member=2366144

Sella (No added fees):  http://www.sella.co.nz/store/4ym9qg/home-education-foundation/display-100

How Do You Cope with “Emerging Teens”?

How Do You Cope with “Emerging Teens”?

Growing Smith Clan on Pete & Genevieve’s wedding, 16 February 2008.

L to R: Jeremiah Smith 16; Zach Smith 26 & Megan Smith (nee Schneider, a pioneer home educator from the USA) and baby Cheyenh Smith 4 months (they all live near Peoria, Illinois); Pete de Deugd (a pioneer home educator from Australia) & Genevieve de Deugd (nee Smith) who now live near Ballarat, VIC (with Natalie Elizabeth who was born 20 December 2008); Alanson Smith 23; Kaitlyn Smith 6; Barbara Smith; Jedediah Smith 10; Grace Timmins 2; Craig Smith; and Charmagne Smith 20.

Click on photo for larger image

.

by Craig Smith
Over the years we’ve been exposed to what appears to
be a whole new way of looking at this issue.
It bothered me, even when I was a teen, how my own
family was constantly shooting off in a million
different directions…there was no cohesiveness as a
family, no direction, just everyone doing his own thing.
All I knew at the time was that there had to be a better
way.
When Barbara and I set up our family, we fell into the
ways of the surrounding culture, as I suppose we all
do….just followed what appeared to be the norm. Let
me tell you, that all changed majorly when we began
home education. Once outside the box, we began
looking at all things else with new eyes, questioning,
“Why do we do things like this?” “Can this be done
better?” and eventually we simply started asking,
“What is a more Biblical way to do this?”
When our eldest children were pushing into the teen
years and few other home educators were around and
the other teens who were around really didn’t have
much time for these weird home educators…and when I
began to have nostalgic remembrances of my teen
“socialisation” experiences…and when I started feeling
sorry for my own teenaged children, how they were
missing out…I suddenly woke up! Good grief, what on
earth was I thinking about! I had allowed my mind to
go into “pagan” mode, just as it did unceasingly for the
first 23 years of my life. Holding those teen years of
mine up to the light of Scripture was like lifting a long
untouched log off the woodpile: a lot of yucky critters
are seen dashing madly for the shadows.
As a slave of Christ I need to think soberly and
Biblically about what my children require: it is not
helpful to wallow in nostalgia or view things through
rose-tinted glasses. No: my children need to live where
they are with what they’ve got and with what Barbara
and I are able and willing — and commanded — to
provide.
Barbara and I weighed up our own teen socialisation
experiences and saw at once that they had contributed
little of a positive nature but heaps in a negative way.
And, hey, we were popular go-getters as teens,
involved in all sorts of things…totally worldly things.
Some friends pointed out that “teenager” is a worldly,
not a Biblical term. Children are adults in training, and
we do them a disservice to make them think they
should be catered for only as “children” for a while and
then “adolescents” and then as “teenagers” and then as
“youth”, as if the world always revolved around them.
Then I saw how society has this pre-occupation with
youth in advertising, marketing, TV shows, fashions,
even personal appearances, with older folks trying to
dress mutton up like lamb and old crows trying to be
like spring chickens.
No, let’s get real, we figured….let’s train up our own
children with a much more realistic, sober frame of
reference, one with a steady eye to the future of what
we’re trying to produce for our children and in our
children.
So we started taking a more long-term view of things:
what is it we are all aiming for ultimately? That is
what to work for now. This realisation took the shine
off of trying to provide them with the full range of upto-
the-minute popular “children’s” experiences: ballet
and gym and music and swimming and highland
dancing lessons, Saturday sports, label clothes, many
unusual pets, ever-better annual birthday parties, every
new Science Centre programme and museum and art
exhibit and circus and orchestra and stage play to come
to town…not that these things are necessarily bad.
Perhaps just not all that worthy of energetic and
sacrificial pursuit. We came up with an even dimmer
view of working hard to get all the culturally expected
“teen” stuff done while they are still teens:
experiencing a “special” boy– or girl-friend; dating;
going to a formal ball; getting a full driver’s license as
soon as absolutely possible; pajama parties; having a
first smoke; having a first drink; having a first…No,
none of that stuff really has much connection with the
real adult world of work, responsibility, raising
children, preparing them for the future. And, hey, as
our eldest daughter pointed out to us, we are already so
weird and so far out of the mainstream as Christian
home educators, we might as well go for gold!
We had always taught our children that as Christians
and as home educators and members of a family who
are committed to training children who are not just
going to cope with this wicked old world but go out
there and turn the place upside down (that is, right-side
up, re-claiming it for Christ), they were just going to be
considered weird by virtually everyone, including other
Christians and home educators. So get used to it. We
are not flowing with the current but actively working in
a different direction.
That is, we tried to impart a vision that was bigger than
any of us, bigger than our whole family could cope
with. That caused some practical issues to come to the
fore: how does one do that, working so closely as a
family on this conquer-the-world programme and at the
same time follow the good old “do your own thing”,
“Follow your own path” idea that characterises our
society? Well, it became obvious that one couldn’t
combine the two. (Actualy, it took years to even notice
that we were living with these conflicting ideas both
vying for attention in our minds.) So at last we
consciously jettisoned the “follow your own path” stuff
and began to think of ourselves as a committed family
unity, each of us making decisions not based on what
we personally want to do, but based on the family
direction…with Dad responsible for making sure the
direction is Biblical. Now as parents we all do this to a
fair extent already. But we began to fine-tune it a lot
more.
Our oldest sons Zach and Alanson (who had already
left home…see, I’m talking about a long-term process
that was going on, one that is still going on, and one
that Barbara and I are still getting used to ourselves)
had moved too far along the “follow your own path”
scenario to come back. They were right on target
according to the “each of us will take on the world on
our own” ideas we drummed into them. Consequently
they are committed Christians, one flying his colours
from day one at RNZAF bootcamp and the other
working full time for a Christian home education
resource marketing firm. The rest of the family is now
thinking more of how we can pool our resources rather
than each automatically going his separate way and
how to help each other in this common task.
Now, I’m not saying these sons are happy to cut ties
with the rest of the family…I’m saying they are very
keen to make their own way in the world, independent
of what Mum and Dad are doing. This is to a large
extent very natural, and I also believe we must train up
our sons especially to know how to establish and run
their own businesses, enterprises, households and
families. It is just that I could have worked a lot harder
at giving them a boost up by giving them greater
responsibilities within our family “enterprise”. Instead
of just making Zach in charge of mowing the lawns, I
could have put him in charge of the entire landscaping
of the property: I could have said that he could come
up with his own total design, and the rest of us would
help him do it. Instead of putting Alanson in charge of
washing the cars, I could have made him responsible
for keeping track of their maintenance schedules. And
more than these kinds of things, I could have found
areas of responsibility to give to them within the area
through which we derive our family income: the Home
Education Foundation. I could have got them doing the
mail, managing the database, doing the accounts,
indexing every issue of Keystone and TEACH Bulletin.
They have each said to me in recent days that there was
a period of time — and they told me the actual months
and years — when they were particularly waiting for
me to do exactly that. But I missed my opportunity, for
the concept was not fully formed in my own mind as
yet. And so they turned elsewhere for a greater degree
of training, responsibility and challenge, when I had it
in my hands to give them tons of each of those.
It could have meant they would be closer to home and
may have thrown in their lot with us entirely. Yet in
God’s Providence, Zach is Marketing Director for a
huge Christian home-education-supporting firm in the
USA and has married the daughter of the boss/owner.
He travels all over the USA and handles huge
accounts. He helps us out with information and
obtaining certain items where he can. Alanson comes
over from the Ohakea RNZAF Base nearby whenever
he can to help do building and landscaping and
maintenance projects around the place. That is, they’re
still involved in the family at the same level as they
always have been.
With our daughters Genevieve and Charmagne,
however, our new way of thinking that has developed
has meant that they have turned their hearts
compl e t e l y t o w a r d home — until such time as
prince charming comes to take them away (or perhaps
to join what we’re doing).
Genevieve in fact gets married next month and
will be taken away to Australia. Her stated
objectives and daily occupation over the last
couple of years has been to submit herself more and
more to her parents’ vision, to help her dad in
particular to become successful in his calling.
She has taken on the database, the mail, the
accounts, even most of compiling and editing of
Keystone. (Charmagne and I are now struggling to take
these responsibilities back!) She did this to fulfill the
Fifth Commandment, to honour your father and your
mother, and also to train herself to look for ways to lift
loads from the shoulders of her future husband. No,
she hasn’t sublimated herself so that she has no
individual self left: she has in fact at the same time
developed an international book/tape/CD business and
weekly newsletter ministry called Issacharian
Daughters (www.issacharian.com). Her fiancé Pete is
thrilled that his future bride is committed to taking on
as much of his wood-working business as she can, but
he is also amazed that he — who until now hasn’t so
much as had a girlfriend — will suddenly have a
ministry to young women all over Australia, New
Zealand, USA, Canada and the UK!
I now am focussing on our younger sons, to help them
become part of what Barbara and I and the daughters
are doing, rather than refraining from getting them too
involved “in case they themselves want to do
something else.” It seemed to me, and I’ve heard
plenty of others say the same, that our teens generally
don’t know what they want to do….so I’ll give them
plenty of work, very useful and purposeful work, right
here in the meantime. Man, I’ve always needed a
hand…why didn’t I see this earlier?
What I’m saying is that each of us family members still
at home and able to think along these lines has
increasingly endeavoured to integrate all that we do so
as to aim in the same general direction as a family unit,
hopefully gaining strength and support from one
another, rather than each trying to carve out his or her
own niche and having to mostly struggle on our own or
find companions to help from outside the family.
We’re seeing a little of the benefits of family-oriented
work in this way: we are all on the same page, there are
fewer conflicts of interest, we can pool resources and
save money all round. Sure, both Genevieve and
Charmagne could be out earning megabucks
somewhere — and each has done that for a season —
but then they found their hearts either wandering from
the family and even scarier, wandering from the
standards and values with which they’d been raised; or
else their hearts, minds and consciences were bruised
and hurt by the contrary and hostile standards and
values they were forced to endure as part of the job,
something few of us would normally put up with if not
tied to the job. They also found that at home they
had a lot more freedom and flexibility to pursue a
multitude of other interests and hobbies, something a
regular job mostly prevented due to time constraints
and being worn out at the end of the day.
Barbara and I, as a married couple separated from our
respective families by geography and even more by the
Faith, carved out a niche, and we are now encouraging
and preparing and expecting our children to widen and
expand that niche and make the whole thing more
productive and useful. We do this by focusing on each
child in a different way than when we do to give them
“childhood memory” type experiences: we focus on
their strengths, abilities, gifts…those things they will be
able to use and develop with our family enterprise or
with an enterprise elsewhere, should they be led in that
direction. This is pretty much what families all used to
do….the miller’s son became a miller, the shoemaker’s
son learned the trade of shoemaking. It doesn’t mean,
of course, that each son and each daughter is expected
to stay forever at home, although that is one of the
options we would like them to know is available, an
option I believe is virtually denied most children these
days. (In fact, I personally know two young Christian
women who wanted to stay at home with their
Christian families but whose parents insisted they get
out and get their own jobs and living arrangements.)
There is another aspect of this whole thing: Barbara
and I do not see ourselves ever “retiring”. The focus is
on the family as a corporation and what we can do as a
team, rather than on catering to the individual as if they
were “their own person.” Just as the family farm used
to be handed down to the sons while the dad stayed on
to help out and advise, maybe we can all hand down
more than we think to each of our children, even if we
just earn wages by working for someone else. We can
at least pass on the skills we’ve learned at that job and
introduce our children to the boss and workmates and
the workplace and the work ethic and how that
business ties in with the rest of what’s going on in the
community and the world. We would hope to be
spending our time in the latter years still promoting
home education while also helping to disciple our
grandchildren.
I discovered another benefit to this outlook just
recently: I was foolishly grizzling about shelving my
career prospects years ago to home educate, about
being a lowly door to door salesman for 13 years for
the lifestyle to allow me to do the teaching and how, as
a result, we have no superannuation or retirement
scheme. My daughters stared at me in disbelief and
remarked, “Are you serious? You’ve got eight separate
retirement schemes running right now, and their names
are Genevieve, Zach, Alanson, etc.”
A couple of books that really helped us and encouraged
us along this path are:
When You Rise Up, by RC Sproul, Jr (a committed
home educator in a similar unschooling sort of vein as
we are!)
Bound for Glory, by RC Sproul, Jr
Safely Home, by Tom Eldredge
Uniting Church and Home, by Eric Wallace
Tapes and website material by Doug Phillips of
All speak of integrating our lifestyles so they operate
more like a rifle shot than like a scatter gun; of
simplifying; of taking a familial, multi-generational
view of things.
As we’ve become occupied with looking toward the
future and planning our days with the bigger picture in
mind, the teen socialisation issue just hasn’t had a
chance to become an issue! I guess you could say we
used the old distraction strategy: rather than deal head
on with the “Why can’t I go with Bobbie to the
movies,” “Billie’s folks let him do that; why can’t I do
it too?” we pre-empted much of this by having an allencompassing
vision that spawned a different type of
activity. Yes, we still go to the movies…actually, only
quite rarely now. And sometimes we just have to say
that we hold to different standards than Billie’s family,
and our personal programme for the child asking the
question does not include that kind of activity.
Bottom line: we parents are the boss of the Smith
Family Corporation. We will listen to requests made in
a respectful and polite manner, we are open to
negotiation, but our decision is final and must not be
challenged. To manage this we have found that we
must convince our children that we are devoted to their
best, to giving them many varied and exciting and
edifying activities and experiences so they cannot
claim to be deprived. But all of these things fall within
the parametres set by God’s sovereign Providence. He
has organised some of us to be able to afford only
secondhand clothes, for some of us to fly overseas a
lot, for some of us to be tied to a farm nearly 365 days
a year. And so, rather than rail and complain against
God’s provision, we seek to conform to it and learn
what He is trying to teach us. His promises in this
regard are simply unbeatable:
Take delight in the Lord, and He will give you the
desires of your heart. — Psalm 37:4. ?

From Keystone Magazine

January 2008, Vol. XIV No. 73
P O Box 9064
Palmerston North
Phone: (06) 357-4399
Fax: (06) 357-4389
email: craig@hef.org.nz

To order a subscription to Keystone Magazine do one of the following:

send email to sales@hef.org.nz with visa number

post cheque or visa number to PO Box 9064, Palmerston North, New Zealand

fax: 06 357-4389

phone: 06 357-4399

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The desires of your heart

Take delight in the Lord,

and He will give you the desires

of your heart — Psalm 37:4

He will fulfil the desire of

those who fear Him; He

also will hear their cry and

save them — Psalm 145:19

A poor man had wanted to go on a cruise all his life.
As a youngster he had seen an advertisement for a luxury
cruise, and ever since he had dreamed of spending
a week on a large ocean liner enjoying fresh sea air and
relaxing in a luxurious environment. He saved money
for years, carefully counting his pennies, often sacrificing
personal needs so he could stretch his resources a
little further.
Finally he had enough to purchase a cruise ticket. He
went to a travel agent, looked over the cruise brochures,
picked out one that was especially attractive
and bought a ticket with the money he had saved so
long. He was hardly able to believe he was about to
realise his childhood dream.
Knowing he could not afford the kind of elegant food
pictured in the brochure, the man planned to bring his
own provisions for the week. Accustomed to moderation
after years of frugal living, and with his entire savings
going to pay for the cruise ticket, the man decided
to bring along a week’s supply of bread and peanut
butter. That was all he could afford.
The first few days of the cruise were thrilling. The man
ate peanut butter sandwiches alone in his room each
morning and spent the rest of his time relaxing in the
sunlight and fresh air, delighted to be aboard ship. By
midweek, however, the man was beginning to notice
that he was the only person on board who was not eating
luxurious meals. It seemed that every time he sat
on deck or rested in the lounge or stepped outside his
cabin, a porter would walk by with a huge meal for
someone who had ordered room service.
By the fifth day of the cruise the man could take it no
longer. The peanut butter sandwiches seemed stale and
tasteless. He was desperately hungry, and even the
fresh air and sunshine had lost their appeal. Finally he
stopped a porter and exclaimed, “Tell me how I might
get one of those meals! I’m dying for some decent
food, and I’ll do anything you say to earn it!”
“Why, sir, don’t you have a ticket for this cruise?”
the porter asked.
“Certainly,” said the man. “But I spent everything I
had for that ticket. I have nothing left with which to
buy food.”
“But, sir,” said the porter, “didn’t you realise? Meals
are included with your passage. You may eat as
much as you like!”
Lots of Christians live like that man. Not realising the
unlimited provision that are theirs in Christ, they
munch on stale scraps. There’s no need to live like
that! Everything we could ever want or need is included
in the cost of admission — and the Saviour has
already paid it for us! (From: Our Sufficiency in Christ,
by John MacArthur, Jr.)
I think Brother MacArthur may have waxed a bit lyrical
on that last line when he said, “Everything we could
ever want or need…”, because it leaves the door wide
open for the deceitful heart of even us redeemed Christians
to make demands that are totally self-centred
rather than Christ-centred. Never underestimate the
sinfulness of sin or the deceitfulness of our own hearts.
(See Jeremiah 17:9 and I Corinthians 10:12). We have
not been perfected by our conversion, and if we say we
are without sin, we deceive ourselves (I John 1:8). Our
sanctification toward perfection in heaven is a life-long
task.
However, we must agree with what MacArthur is saying
because the promises of God prove true, and He
has promised us “such blessing that there will not be
room enough to receive it,” (Malachi 3:10). I don’t
know about you, but I am definitely a starter for that
kind of blessing.
So how do we cash in? What do we have to do to inherit
all these goodies? Perhaps we had better stop right
here and realise that I have already asked in the same
spirit as the rich young man who approached Jesus and
left quickly and sadly when he found the price too
high. He didn’t want to give up that which he could not
keep for that which he could never lose. (See Matthew
19:16-22).
Look at our opening verses. Note that these promises,
like virtually every other promise of God, have conditions
attached to them. You see, our Lord and Saviour
is not a big sugar-daddy in the sky just waiting to write
us out blank cheques whenever we want them. He is
King of kings and Lord of lords, Absolute Sovereign of
the entire universe. We play by His rules or we are out
of the game. Here is the One to Whom it is quite correct
to say, “Your wish is my command.” But here also
is the “secret” to inheriting all He has: When we take
delight in the Lord, when what He wants is what we
want, when my inmost delights and desires come from
seeing His will accomplished in my life, in the life of
others, in the society around me, then I am assured of
receiving the desires of my heart!
You see, it is clear that whatever God wants, God gets.
Now we know from Scripture that His time frame is not
what we would organise, but we know that no person
or being or circumstance is going to thwart God’s
will….He will get, He will accomplish that which He
desires. If we are totally in tune with Him, our desires
will be the same as His….and just as He gets what He
wills, so will we! Now we may not see some of these
things in our life times. But they will come to pass, and
we can know the joy of having contributed to the
accomplishment, the furtherance of His purposes on
earth, even though we may not live to see some things
come to fruition. Have not most of the saints through
the ages lived and laboured in exactly such hope? Do
not go around praying for or proclaiming that thus-andso
will take place because you’ve been praying faithfully
for that…you may well be setting yourself up for a
faith-shattering disappointment. Which of these attitudes
are we displaying for our children to emulate?
Which of these are we training them to have?
This does not mean we do not plan big or expect big in
this life. You bet we do: set goals and have your 5, 10,
20-year objectives in mind. And pray about them, that
they be in the will of the Lord. One of the biggest mistakes
I ever made was to piously “wait upon the Lord”
for several years as a young man and let career and
educational opportunities slide right on by. Then Proverbs
16:9 came crashing through: “A man’s mind plans
his way, but the Lord directs his steps.” See? The
promise has a condition. He will direct our steps, but
we must at least make some plans for moving
in one direction or the other, not just sit there.
You cannot steer a car, a ship, a horse or anything
until it is moving. Are we teaching our
children to be pro-active in seeking out God’s
will? Do they see us doing that?
Since my will is to do His will, when He directs
my steps in a completely different direction
than I had planned, I don’t get all frustrated,
bitter and twisted (well, not for long,
anyway!) because I know this change of direction
is from the Lord! I mean this change
of plans may not be the least bit convenient.
It may actually cost me money, seem to have
wasted time mucking about in this other area
I am now leaving and even make me look a
bit inconsistent or indecisive in the eyes of
my peers. Well, just call to mind the lives of
people like Moses, John the Baptist and even
Christ Jesus Himself.
Years ago, when single, I was planning a trip
to South America. I had saved up a nice sum
and was praying that God would confirm it. I
was also shopping for a car and had decided
on the size of down payment I could handle
and therefore what price vehicle I could afford
to look at. I found the perfect car: one
owner, a little old lady who only drove it on
weekends. As soon as I signed the papers —
and for some reason, not until then — it
dawned on me that she wanted the full payment
not just a down payment. It took all the
money I’d saved for my trip plus a withdrawal
penalty fee plus all but $20 of my next pay to
buy that car. Well, God clearly confirmed that I was to
have that car but that I definitely was not to go to
South America. Maybe that doesn’t sound like too
spiritual an experience, but I want you to know, I had
total assurance and peace of heart that God had organised
every detail. Recall events like these from your
own life and recount them again and again to your children.
This is how we are to train up our children, in the fear
of the Lord. Note how our other verse above promises
fulfillment of desires to those who fear Him. We do
what He says, not because we are afraid but because
we don’t want to do anything else! I’ve lived long
enough now to know that when I obey the Lord, I am
the one who gets blessed, not the Lord. I am not doing
Him a favour. No, No! He is doing me the favour by
graciously allowing me to know His will in His statutes,
ordinances, commandments and precepts in the
Bible. As parents it is our duty to ensure that our children
perform what is right. This is non-negotiable. We
must strive to so train them in consistent obedience to
God and His word that they take delight in it and know
no other lifestyle.
By this we will set them up for a life of true blessedness
to themselves and of true blessing to others. We
want them to be fit for use by our Master as instruments
of Righteousness in His hands, doing those good
works for which they were created (Ephesians 2:10). ?

From Keystone Magazine

November 2007, Vol. XIII No. 6
P O Box 9064
Palmerston North
Phone: (06) 357-4399
Fax: (06) 357-4389
email: craig@hef.org.nz

To order a subscription to Keystone Magazine do one of the following:

send email to sales@hef.org.nz with visa number

post cheque or visa number to PO Box 9064, Palmerston North, New Zealand

fax: 06 357-4389

phone: 06 357-4399

Trademe (fees added):  http://www.trademe.co.nz/Members/Listings.aspx?member=2366144

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A Struggle with the Faith

A Struggle with the Faith

by Craig Smith

I want to share a bit of my personal testimony, not to
push our denominational bias down your throats, but to
illustrate how struggle and patience in the struggle
helps growth, both in ourselves as parents and in our
children. Barbara and I both personally struggled with
issues of the Faith when we saw or felt inconsistencies
or hypocrisies. We are particularly sensitive to these
because we know how prone each of us is to being
both inconsistent and hypocritical…being this way was
standard procedure when we were unbelievers, and old
habits die hard. We made no secret of our struggles
around the family meal tables, and we believe our
openness and honesty about these things with our children
was helpful, allowing them to see our frustrations
and disappointments with situations and with people
(but without the usual character assassinations that go
with this kind of thing…we had to be particularly careful
of this, for it is so damaging to our own credibility
in our children’s eyes). We all rejoiced together in our
excitement at new discoveries in the Scriptures. We
struggled together in our efforts to obey and conform
to the Scriptures, including our fears and excuses of
not wanting to go through with it. We shed tears of facing
the implications of what being Biblically consistent
would cost in terms of status in the eyes of men, in being
shunned by people who were our best friends. At
the end of the day, because of these struggles with issues
of the Faith, we can say that we know what we
believe and why we believe it. More importantly, so do
our children! We are all much stronger for it.
When I first got converted in Christchurch in 1974 and
first began to read the Bible on my own to learn for
myself what it said, and having never before heard the
words “dispensa tional ism”, “covenant”,
“Arminianism”, “Calvinism”, “Pre-, Post- or A- millennial”
or any such theological terms, I came to some
interesting conclusions. First, that Jesus is Lord. Not of
some, but of all. He is sovereign over all areas of life,
over every square inch of the universe and over every
human being and every human institution. Second, that
the devil is a liar and the father of lies. So when he
says to the Lord in Matthew 4:8-9 that he (the devil)
will give Him (Jesus Christ) all the kingdoms of the
world, I simply laughed at the whopper of a lie the
devil just told and at what a complete idiot he obviously
was (and is) to try and tempt the Lord Jesus with
kingdoms over which He already rules!! (See Psalm
24:1). (OK, we don’t think we see the Lord ruling over
them presently, but nothing happens without His say so,
and He will come to claim them one day.) Third, I
learned that, as Romans and Galatians make clear, we
Christians are the real Jews (because we are Jews in-
wardly, not outwardly – Romans 2:28-29), the real descendants
of Abraham (because we share the faith of
Abraham – Romans 4:9-12, Galatians 3:6-7)), the real
inheritors of the promises (Romans 9:6-8, Galatians
3:27-29). And fourth, I learned that the promises include
inheriting the whole world in Christ, (see Romans
4:13, Matthew 28:18-20, Acts 1:8).
Barbara and I were both discipled by the Navigators in
Christchurch for several years. The training we received
with the Navigators, to take the Scriptures seriously
and to study as did the Bereans of Acts 17:10-11
to see if what any speaker said was so, and especially
to apply what the Bible said to our personal lives…
these things set us up to be true disciples of Christ, not
just SMO Christians (Sunday Morning Only). Even
with the general evangelical emphasis on personal
evangelism, the Navs were not popular. I guess it was
because they took the Faith far more seriously than
most. They did not stop at conversion, but wanted to
see new believers firmly established in the Faith.
After getting married, we made our home and raised
our children in a well-known, evangelical, Biblebelieving
church denomination. This was our first and
only spiritual home for the first 14 (fourteen) years of
our married life. Since they did not see it as good stewardship
to polish the brass on a sinking ship, they
thought Christian schools were nutty and that home
education was simply madness …. after all, the Lord
was coming back any day now, maybe this afternoon…
but certainly in our children’s lifetimes. And besides,
our taxes paid for these lovely schools we have all
around us, and shouldn’t our (unconverted) children be
in the schools to evangelise the lost there?
I always wondered why these things never seemed to
harmonize with the conclusions I had come to in my
own Scripture reading when I was first converted. But
I figured I had a lot to learn yet, and the people around
me were as godly and as serious about the Faith as any
I knew of, and many had themselves come to Faith
through struggles.
And here was one of our first struggles: is the Lord
coming so soon that I need not care too much about the
raising of my children, for they will surely not see
adulthood; or is it possible that He may tarry a bit? We
came to the conclusion that we need to be prepared for
Him to return tomorrow but to train up our children so
that they can train up their children to train up their
children and so on, in order that they all be overcomers
and conquerors of the world through the Faith (I John
5:4-5, Revelation 2 & 3, the message to each church).
So it was not an either/or approach but a both/and.
Anyway, after about 7 of those 14 years we noticed
some discrepancies between the orthodoxy and the orthopraxy
of the saints at this church (between what
they said they believed and what they actually did in
practise). Now, lest I appear harsh and critical, we have
since found that this is a universal and common problem
with all churches and with all believers. But we
were new Christians, newly married, with rose-tinted
glasses and thought all Christians would at least desire
to be consistent if not perfect. We found it isn’t so.
I’d been studying the differences between a consistent
Biblical worldview and a worldview directed by purely
secular or humanistic thought, such as one would find
in the average unbeliever. The disturbing fact was that
many of the brethren at church thought and acted like
humanists…that is, their vocabulary was different than
an unbeliever’s, and they went to church on Sundays,
but much of their everyday lives were indistinguishable
from the way unbelievers thought and acted. By that I
mean their politics were all over the field; their economics
were heavily socialist; they had no problem
about being in debt; their standards of (im)modesty
were not quite the same, but followed at a respectable
5-year distance; virtually anything was allowed in the
name of entertainment on TV (including immorality,
nudity and blasphemy); and apparently the Scriptures
had nothing to say in the areas of law and justice, education,
economics, social welfare or medicine, especially,
I was told, since our taxes to the secular state
took care of all these things. I was shocked at my fellow
believers for holding such ideas, but the fact is, I
too held them and was only becoming aware of how
closely they matched the worldview of secular humanism,
which is anti-Christian to the core. I was shocked,
in other words, at how close my worldview was to rank
unbelievers. Surely the Scriptures call us to something
entirely different. Doesn’t Romans 12:2 say not to be
conformed to this world? Doesn’t James 4:4 say that if
we get into a state of cosy friendship with the world
that we make ourselves an enemy of God? I was worried
and spiritually dissatisfied. I began to seek for a
deeper understanding of the Scriptures.
One day I listened to a tape by an old buzzard with a
terribly dry monotone voice who nonetheless said the
most exciting things I’d ever heard: that Scripture is
God’s word, that God’s word is eternal, that God
(being God) speaks to every area of life. That is, the
Bible is relevant – nay, is essential – to me as a believer
to guide me in all that I do: my politics, my economics,
education, journalism, music, entertainment,
family life, relationships, ethics, philosophy, history,
mathematics, my calling, my vocation. He also
unapologetically proclaimed that Jesus is Lord of all
things, both visible and invisible, and that He and the
Gospel will have total victory over all things in human
history as well as at His return. His bottom line was
that the answer to all problems in the world, both the
macro and the micro, were found in Christ, in His
Word. His wisdom and righteousness and salvation and
redemption are to be made effective on planet earth by
the REGENERATION wrought by the Holy Spirit, in
lives sanctified by living in obedience to the King of
kings, and not, emphatically not, by any REVOLUTION
wrought by man, whether that revolution be by
bullets or by the ballot box. Now this is the kind of
Saviour/God worth worshipping, I reckoned, One Who
really did have the whole world in His hands. And it
matched the Saviour/God I read about all the way from
Genesis to Revelation, Who is active in human history,
raising up and bringing low, and Who always gets the
victory – I Corinthians 15:57-58, II Corinthians 2:14.
This old buzzard was Rousas John Rushdoony of Chalcedon
Institute in California: Calvinist, Reformed,
Post-Millennial, Theonomist, Reconstructionist. I soon
found out that in my church, these were dirty words!
People would back away from you as if you had the
plague if you mentioned them in any tone of voice that
was not dripping with contempt. (After reading Rushdoony’s
monthly publication and listening to his tapes
for 20 years, I have also learned that he is hated and
feared by a number of evangelicals, some of his fellow
Calvinists, also by atheists, New Agers and other assorted
heretics….and that his teachings and writings are
shamelessly misrepresented by people who do not
agree with him.)
As for me and my house, we would go where the Lord
led. For the next seven years we investigated these
things. We did not want to simply go somewhere else
because it was the flavour of the month. We needed to
do what was best, what seemed most consistently Biblical
to us, as far as we could ascertain it. That’s why we
took seven years: I had to know why we would leave
the church we were currently in (if we needed to leave
at all), and we had to know why we would go to whatever
church we ended up going to before we made any
move at all. Seven years of struggle.
In the meantime, listening to Rushdoony, Al Martin,
Gary North, Greg Bahnsen, David Chilton, etc., and
reading the Chalcedon Report, I must say that Christianity,
the Faith, Christ and His Word the Bible
increasingly became the most relevant, exciting and
challenging things in our lives! God’s love became infinitely
deeper and higher and broader. His Grace
was more unbelievably immense. His Mercy toward me
so much more unmerited as to be humanly, logically,
rationally unjustifiable. The richness of the Christian,
Biblical Faith, we learned, was so much more vast and
superior than we’d ever before understood: Christianity
alone is fully able to present a worldview that is comprehensive,
coherent, consistent and complete. And my
sins! Oh, as I read and listened to these preachers listed,
my sins were so much more horrendous, so totally
abominable, and God’s holiness and righteousness
and grace and mercy in redemption were so supremely
fantastic and so utterly and totally undeserved that I
was and am continually driven to the foot of the Cross
for cleansing, for forgiveness. I cannot neglect prayer,
fellowship and the reading/memorising/meditating
upon the Word, for if I do, the world, the flesh and the
devil so resonate with my old nature, that they would
soon have complete sway over me, deceive me and
make me a disgrace to His Name.
Rushdoony also said something that really grabbed me:
that most of us have a “smorgasbord theology”. We
pick and choose according to our personal likes and
dislikes. This is essentially what Eve did in the Garden,
with Adam’s silent assent, the DIY mentality that condemned
all mankind to hell. This was so obviously true
of me and the folks I worshipped with, I determined to
find the opposite to that, whatever it was. At last I discovered
“systematic theology”, one that takes every
line of Scripture seriously, from the opening of Genesis
to the closing of Revelation. It is a theology that believes
that the Scriptures are an organic whole, like the
robe of Christ, woven from top to bottom without
seam. It is one that believes that man shall not live by
bread alone but by every word that proceeds out of the
mouth of God, and that includes both the Old and the
New Testaments.
The result of those seven years of research was that we
left the only church family we had ever known and
joined ourselves to a church with a systematic theology,
to a bunch of mostly strangers. We worked our
way through a couple of other big issues by reading
widely on all sides of the arguments. We’d heard it
said that “doctrine divides, but love unites,” and at first
we wondered if we’d fallen victim to that very thing,
for some of our old friends turned cold shoulders to us,
people for whom we still had the greatest of feelings.
We now see that it is having a love for Christ Himself,
for His doctrines in the Bible and for His people that
truly unites.
So please let me encourage you to tackle things of the
Faith that bother you. If Christianity is worth believing
and following, it can stand the hard questions. Do not
be afraid to investigate things that don’t seem right,
even when you can see it could make you unpopular
simply to investigate it. Some of you know what it’s
like: you didn’t want to look into the home education
option for fear that you’d become convinced about it…
and sure enough, you got convicted, started home educating,
it has been costly in terms of friendships and
lifestyle and other plans and dreams that were shelved.
But it’s all been worth it, hasn’t it? ?

From Keystone Magazine

November 2007, Vol. XIII No. 6
P O Box 9064
Palmerston North
Phone: (06) 357-4399
Fax: (06) 357-4389
email: craig@hef.org.nz

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