Tuesday, June 20, 2017

The Importance of Doing Little Things for God

Our culture pushes people to value fame and fortune and doing big things, and our churches have too often adopted this view, but "Christianized" it. Now, rather than just living a quiet, faithful life and serving those around them, Christians are taught to aspire to do big things for God. They all need to aspire to be the next Billy Graham or Ravi Zacharias. The "good" Christians all want to be missionaries or pastors or have a multi-million-dollar ministry of some kind.

This push to only value the famous Christians or those who do something big and important and unusual for God is part of the reason so many women want to become pastors and missionaries. If that's what a "good" Christian is, then how could God prevent women from being the best kind of Christian?

But in reality, most Christians are not called to do something big and famous for God. They're called to serve others where they are. They're called to raise a family and impact the people already around them for God. The greatest in the kingdom of God isn't necessarily the one whose name everyone knows, but rather the servant of all. That's what Jesus said.

The faithful husband who works hard to provide for his family and comes home and teaches his children about God and occasionally provides evidence for Christianity to his coworkers is doing what God wants him to do. The diligent wife who spends her days serving her family, keeping her house, and training her children in the faith is doing important things for God right in her own home.

It's not just the people "out there" who need our help. It's the people right in our own homes and communities too. I have mission field right here in my home - three little souls who need me to guide them, serve them, and raise them to know and love God and a husband who needs my support and love.

Some people are called to do more - to become pastors or missionaries or evangelists, to have an online ministry, to write books, or other things which impact a larger circle than just their family and acquaintances. But not everyone. We should all do what we can, with the priority on serving our own families first, then a larger circle as we have time and energy. Too often, the push to do bigger things results in wrong priorities and the family suffers while mom or dad spends their energy helping everyone but their own spouse and children, the very people they are most called to serve.

We aren't all called to be missionaries, teachers, pastors, or earth-shakers. But we are all called to make disciples. That can happen right where we are. In all the rush to make converts, sometimes we forget that making disciples is more than that. It takes a lot of time and effort to train someone to develop a Biblical worldview so that they are prepared to remain steadfast in the faith, serve God on their own, and impact others. Making a convert is just the first step. Some people are really good at this step and do a lot of it, but most of us are called to primarily foster the growth of these converts - to disciple them.

It takes a lot of little things to serve God, being faithful every day to share, teach, encourage, and serve others in various ways without getting much notice from the rest of the world. Whether we're raising babies or baby Christians, it takes time to mature them. There are many potential disciples and disciples-in-training right where we are. Let's not forget to serve them.

Wednesday, June 14, 2017

Baked Oatmeal

This tasty baked oatmeal is mildly sweet and just a little bit eggy, but also very hearty and nutritious. It is best served warm with a little milk on top.

1/2 cup (1 stick) butter, melted
2 eggs
3/4 cup sugar
1 cup milk
2 teaspoons baking powder
Pinch of salt
3 cups rolled oats
2 tablespoons flax meal (optional)

Mix all ingredients together until well-blended. Bake in an 8x8 baking pan at 350 for 30-40 minutes or until the middle is set and the top is browned. Serve warm with a little milk or ice cream.

I discovered that flax meal (i.e. ground flax seeds) works very well in oatmeal and particularly this recipe. The nutty flavor works well and the omega-3 fatty acids and fiber in the flax seeds make this a very healthy and tasty addition. My kids love it.

As for the sugar, the original recipe that I modified called for a full cup of sugar, but that seemed too sweet to me. I use about 3/4 cup and it's still plenty sweet. For those looking to reduce sugar even more, it can easily be reduced to 1/2 cup or even less.

Monday, May 15, 2017

The Myth of Socialization in Schools

One of the most common questions people have about homeschooling is "How do you get your children socialized?" They seem to think that socialization is something you need schools for and that children who don't spend all day in the presence of their peers are somehow deficient in social skills. This is false.

One of the primary reasons for this confusion is that a lot of people think of "socialization" as the kind of environment you get in public school. You know - all the cliques and after school sports and spending a lot of time with people exactly your age while looking down on younger kids and looking up to older ones. But that's not socialization.

Children are best socialized by spending a lot of time with adults and children of many ages, but especially adults. They primarily learn how to be social by learning from those older than themselves how to act in social situations. They don't learn how to be social from other kids their age who are still trying to figure it out.

In no other area of life do people think you need to learn things from similarly clueless people. You don't learn how to be a doctor by learning from other medical students. You don't learn to be an electrician from other students in electrician training. 16-year-olds don't learn to drive from other 16-year-olds. In every case, you learn from those who are more experienced.

Socialization is the same way. Children need to spend large amounts of time with adults who can teach them how to behave properly and interact socially. Learning primarily from their peers, who don't know yet, teaches bad behaviors and peer-dependence (which the Bible warns about, by the way), not a well-balanced social understanding.