Tag Archives: Parents

Raised In The Kitchen

Are you eating the food or just smelling it?I was raised in the kitchen, thanks to my parents.

Peter and David and the author of Hebrews each used the word “taste” to describe experiencing the divine.

Psalm 34:8 Oh, taste and see that the Lord is good!
Blessed is the man who takes refuge in Him!

Hebrews 6:4-6 For it is impossible, in the case of those who have once been enlightened, who have tasted the heavenly gift, and have shared in the Holy Spirit, and have tasted the goodness of the word of God and the powers of the age to come, and then have fallen away, to restore them again to repentance, since they are crucifying once again the Son of God to their own harm and holding Him up to contempt.

1 Peter 2:2-3 Like newborn infants, long for the pure spiritual milk, that by it you may grow up into salvation – if indeed you have tasted that the Lord is good.

Taste and see that the Lord is good! Tasting implies an up close and personal involvement in the act of experiencing the Lord. You may be able to see from a distance but you cannot taste remotely.

A danger for those who have been raised and lived their entire lives in the kitchen of the church and God’s word is that they may assume they have experienced the full extent of God’s experience and life when in fact they have only been seeing and hearing and observing from afar what they ought to have been tasting from their privileged place beside the stove and under the counter.

At the same time, being raised in the kitchen is a singular and increasingly rare event pregnant with benefits and possibilities that are available to those who do take advantage of them. To those who do taste the smorgasbord, the buffet of spiritual delicacies which may be eaten from a young age, a great blessing has been given.

While those who come later to the table often value the food at the Lord’s table more, the blessings of early exposure to the table are many, so long as we don’t content ourselves only with the smells of that feast.

Husbands, Love Your Wives

I was talking to someone over the weekend about Ephesians 5:25-31, Paul’s instructions to married men, and he commented that he finds sermons on the preceding verses, Paul’s exhortations to married women, very common. Common to the neglect of the exhorting of married men. I’ve heard sermons on each, myself, and cannot judge either way as to which I’ve heard more of. But regardless of the issue, real or perceived, married men seem to me to not be learning much of this vital information prior to tying the knot.

In the blogosphere I found an older article detailing a practical but brief perspective on the Ephesians verses for men. And an even more explicit and holistic view of the requirements of the husband in marriage (note, this article is graphic, not pictorial, but graphic) as spelled out throughout the Bible.

Marriage is a beautiful thing, so I’ve been told and have observed. My parents have been married 28/29 years, or thereabouts. I’ve observed them learn to deal with things together as they’ve raised my siblings and myself (we did not make it easy). But together they have joy and I think they can say, looking back, that the love they shared on their wedding day was the least love they’ve shared since. Marriage is a joining, a merging of two different people into a single living unit. The joining and merging brings a broadened perspective, an enhanced effectiveness. In business classes we learned that a well-balanced relationship allows for a result greater than the sum of the individual parts. This rings true for a strong marriage. Individually we may attempt and succeed at great things, but together, standing on each others shoulders, in each others care and support, and in Christs love, there is little indeed that cannot be accomplished. And children. Not only are the effect tangible in this life while the two live, but their heritage continues in their children, surpassing even the memory of their own specific achievements.

Marriage is also a difficult thing. In the “Great Unified Theory of Everything” (GUTE) marriage falls under the category Power Tools. A powerful tool can be easy and difficult at the same time, both using and mastering. A power tool can do great good and great evil, usually not at the same time. I have seen my parents argue, mostly when I was younger, and I recall the fear and insecurity those arguments gave me. But with time I can see how my mom and dad worked to deepen conversation and communication between each other, setting aside time each day to spend together. Usually right when dad got home from work, if something else wasn’t going on right then, he and mom would go into a room alone and talk. That took dedication, creating a habit in what could be a very hectic time of the day. As dad made more money he had the time and means to get involved in several hobbies, one of which is Civil War Reenacting. He’s always enjoyed camping, but my mom was never much for camping. In the past camping usually ended up being a “just us boys” time, which was good. But with reenacting there were enough amenities around that mom could go and enjoy herself too. But he also sets aside weekends several times each year that he and mom will leave for a quick weekend. Sometimes they go to the coast, sometimes they go to the mountains. Dad spends lots of time looking up Bed & Breakfasts that are well recommended and off the beaten path and he and mom will spend a weekend away, another honeymoon. Their love is palpable.¬† Marriage is hard work, especially when children and life seem to be trying their utmost to pull you apart individually and as a couple, and making habits of togetherness and making the special effort to get away and be just together is of supreme importance.

Marriage is a wonderful thing, so I’ve heard. Like all wonderful things it takes a lot of work, hard work. The more work that is put in, the greater the potential. Realizing the potential is up to each of us individually, but for the couple the rewards are greatest together.

Priorities Of Preservation

There is a push today to limit human suffering, to prevent any pain from occurring at all. This cringing drive is so rabid that a father sues his daughters’ school when she is stung by a bee on the school yard. There are schools refusing to allow recess, there are schools sanitizing their play equipment, removing anything which may remotely cause any risk. The schools don’t have a choice, the parents will sue them out of existence if their children encounter the slightest discomfort.

This issue here is contained in the fundamental difference in perspective cause by a proper understanding of mans inherent value before a creator God. A humanist will not

Compare this to the lifestyle lived by many Christians seeking to save the soul and the mind. In God’s design the body is temporary, it dies, but the soul is immortal, it is freed from the body by death and lives forever. To a Christian, more important than the body is the soul. A Christian may be called to give up their life, literally or figuratively, to save peoples’ souls. A Christian does not discount the value of a body. You find Christians at the forefront of most of the humanitarian efforts around the world, seeking to protect the bodies of millions of human lives, regardless of whether or not those being protected are Christian or not. The Christian seeks to preserve the body because under God we are all equally valuable, and because the body is the corporeal home of a soul which either needs saving or has a life to live and purposes yet to accomplish.

The world seeks to preserve the body, while summarily dismissing the mind, allowing anything whatsoever to creep its way into the receptive, untrained recesses. And even then they desire to allow anything we want to be used on our body, so long as we do the choosing. We can choose abortion, we can choose drugs, we can choose tattoos, just so long as we do the choosing. It is a matter of control. God is God, He holds choice in His hands. He allows us to choose all the time, but there are many times He chooses for us,for His glory, for our good. Mankind does not want God to choose for us. All of nature are God’s tools, and He wields Nature for the furthering of His plans. As we seek to limit the influence of God over our lives we will find Nature rising up and thwarting our plans, exerting His control over us.

I love butterflies. I have lots of experience with butterflies. I worked over the course of 2 or 3 consecutive summers for a local butterfly farm in my home town. We bred and raised monarch butterflies and sold them for weddings funerals, graduations, research, etc… There is a crucial stage of every butterflies development when the caterpillar has grown to the right maturity level it crawls to the underside of the leaf in the wild or our special rearing containers in the lab and in a weird jerking dance encloses itself in a chrysalis. The caterpillar goes through a metamorphosis, a fundamental change in it’s very nature and emerges and beautiful and brilliant butterfly. The escape from the chrysalis is one of the most important passages in its brief life. Without this struggle the butterfly will die. With the metamorphosis complete the chrysalis turns transparent and the orange and black wings are scrunched against the body in the little space left by the bulging abdomen of the butterfly. The butterfly braces itself against the chrysalis wall and pushes until the skin of the chrysalis breaks at the butterflies shoulders. The butterfly pulls itself with great difficulty out of the chrysalis shell and hangs from it, pumping its wings slowly it pushes the fluids from it’s distended abdomen into its wings, inflating them slowly until they are stiff and straight.

If the butterfly were to fall too easily out of the chrysalis, it would not have the strength to pump its wings full of the fluid. The stunted wings would hang limply in a bundle at the doomed insects side and it will die. There is not an option here. The butterfly either engages in an intense and painful struggle or it dies.

We as humans need pain and need struggles to grow many times. Pain and discomfort serve many purposes and there is no way I can explore all of them here. Pain can mean we’re human and we live in a physical world. It is a sensation, a feeling. A bee sting means that we offended a bee and he is willing to give his life in order to offend us a little. Pain can be a warning. A hot stove burns us and we are careful not to put out hands there again. Pain can be growth. The aches and pains of childhood as our bodies stretch to new and unfamiliar heights are not bad, but merely a sign that we’ll not be looking quite so far up at the rest of the world very much longer. Pain is not bad, it is an indicator, a sign.

And yet, in spite of the necessity and normalcy, the elite of our culture push for protection of the body. Control.

The Christian perspective is different. The soul and the mind are more important because they exist eternally. The body is just a temporary home.

Our Story, From Matthew’s Eyes

She was smart, beautiful and funny, and most of all, she loved God.

February 11, 2007: Sunday morning I walked into Sunday School with the other Young Adults at Brainard Avenue Baptist Church. It was my second week back after being gone just over two years in California.

I had met the church and felt at home and accepted and appreciated back in 2003, and with that knew that I was to relocate at least for a while to Chicago after spending a few more years at home. After spending just over 2 years back in California, I returned to Chicago at the end of January 2007 and thanks to the generosity of friends church family in the area I was putting down roots.

Little did I know where those roots would grow and how my life was to change. Soon.

Back to that Sunday, February 11th. In my visits back to Chicago while living in California, I’d met some new members of the Sunday School class, students at Moody Bible Institute who were able to drive out to the suburbs for Sunday services at Brainard. It was good to see these people again in addition to the regulars and long-timers.

The Moody students had brought friends this Sunday. One young lady, in her first semester at Moody, had been searching for a church she could feel at home at while attending school, had taken advantage of her friend’s extra car seats, and was visiting the church for the first time.

The quiet, beautiful girl did not return for a few weeks.

When she did visit Brainard again, I made a point of talking with her for a few minutes. Making her feel welcome, I told myself.

It began as a friendship, nothing special. But I quickly moved beyond an average interest in her.

This was a Godly woman, beautiful, caring, very loving. All that attracted me very intensely. I had to get to know her better.

And so I did. Grace visited family in Washington for spring break. I missed her those weeks she did not come to Brainard.

I had offered to drive students to church from Moody when they needed extra seats, and one beautiful spring day they took me up on the offer. Three students needed a ride and so I went out early Sunday morning to pick them up. Due to the beautiful weather, the two others decided they were going to ride a motorcycle out to church that day, leaving Grace to ride with me by herself. She was not exactly comfortable with this situation at the outset, being alone in a car with some guy she hardly knew. But it was that or miss church, and I’d already driven out, so to not make a scene, she got in the car.

We began talking and found we had similar standards and backgrounds, and we both liked country music.

That afternoon several of us spent the afternoon at my apartment eating lunch, playing games, listening to music, relaxing. Grace and I continued to talk and get to know each other. I drove her back to school too, and said goodbye.

Over that spring the associate pastor and his wife invited several college students over for extended times of fun and fellowship, watching movies and entertaining their young boys. Grace was able to take some time off studying to attend one of these, so I volunteered to pick her up from school and bring her out to the suburbs so she could spend time with us.

The other Moody students had come out earlier in the day and so again I was able to spend time just with Grace, getting to know her better.

We also spent a Saturday helping some other students move to an apartment off campus. While there were others around, I sought out Grace and helped her and asked her to help me in specific tasks. I was twitterpated. And I believe she knew I was possibly interested in more than friendship.

Our friendship continued to grow and as the semester drew to a close I was trying to decide if I should ask her if we could move into a potentially romantic relationship or talk to her dad first. Various things led me to decide to speak with her dad first, but as I drove her and a mutual friend to the airport that morning in early May I bit my tongue.

Our parting was awkward as our relationship was possibly changing and yet neither of us had mentioned it to each other. We parted with an awkward side hug and I drove to work while she winged her way home to Dallas.

Earlier in the semester she had given me her cell phone number but had informed me her phone was broken and so I had not called her. As she left for the summer, she left a few boxes of things which would not fit in the summer storage at Moody which I was to take to the associate pastor’s house for storage. The boxes had her home address.

I spent the weekend visiting friends in Louisville, Kentucky and trying to work up the courage to call her or her dad. I still wasn’t very sure of her interest in me and I feared rejection. So I decided to try and talk with her one more time, just to gauge her possible interest.

Leaving Louisville late Sunday afternoon for the long drive back to Chicago, I called her. I’d used the address on her boxes to look up her home phone number in the phone book online. And now the phone was ringing.

Her mother answered.

“Can I speak with Grace, please? This is Matthew, a friend from Chicago.”

The phone call and the trip went quickly, all 4 hours of both. And I had my answer. We still had not talked specifically of our relationship, but I knew that if it was that easy for both of us to spend 4 hours talking and with similarities between us in standards and beliefs, I knew I wanted to pursue this lady.

The next day I called her dad. I spoke to him on Tuesday and asked if I could begin courting his daughter.

Over the next few weeks he asked me questions regarding my views and opinions on various matters and eventually told me he and his wife would allow me to court Grace.

I was planning a trip down to Missouri by then to see her for a weekend. She was working at Child Evangelism Fellowship’s headquarters outside St. Louis.

June 15th, 2007: The Friday before I drove down to see her, when we were having what by then was a regular evening phone call, I told her I’d been talking to her parents about courting her (she knew that already) and I asked her if she was willing to court me.

She said yes.

Over the summer she traveled to New York to work with children in the projects and other parts of the city, returning to Missouri and then Dallas in August, where I spent a week meeting her family and friends and having fun together.

We flew back to Chicago together: her to begin classes and me to get back to work.

Through the semester and now these months together I grew to appreciate more and more her strength, her tenacious love, her sense of direction and purpose, and her Godliness. Not to mention her beauty and her spirit, her consistency and organization. I knew rather quickly that she was definitely the one I wanted to marry.

Apparently she knew too.

After a winter trip to California meeting my family and friends and receiving further counsel from my parents, I began seriously considering marriage to this wonderful woman God had brought into my life.

After an intense period of counsel, thought, and prayer we were still unsure when the best time would be for our wedding to occur and our marriage to commence: Whether to marry this year or after she graduates in 2010.

Grace and I decided to have a period of time where we were to not contact each other but to spend that time seeking the Lord’s will and answers in our lives.

Ending Valentine’s Day, 2008, these 7 days were painful but rich, and we both, individually, felt God leading us to marry this year.

In the church parking lot, on February 25, 2008, 1 year and 2 weeks after we’d first met in the Sunday School classroom not too far away, I got down on one knee and asked Grace if she would marry me, be my wife and the mother of our children.

She said yes!

American Texan and I will be married August 2nd, 2008, in Dallas TX.

See our website at MattLovesGrace.com

Dead Sexy

In a previous article, Priorities Of Preservation, I discussed the importance Christianity puts on the entirety of an person: body, mind, and spirit.

While the world, in a misguided and myopic view constrained by sin, only really cares for the preservation of the body. And through ignorance, loses the whole person.

In a report released last week which most have already heard of or commented on, it was noted that 1/4 of the US Teenage Female population is infected with one of several Sexually Transmitted Diseases.

The immediate cry was that Abstinence Education must be completely abandoned and further explanation of the ins and outs of safe sex be taught to every child.

I find those making that argument to be their own worst enemies, and I am determined to sit and watch them tear themselves apart trying to make sense of what they’ve said.

Better have a good belt to hold these sides in. The problem is, this is no laughing matter: peoples lives are at stake.
At the blog dbTechno (“Providing Science And Technology News Since 1996”) under the headline “Teens Having Sex, Getting STD’s Due To Lack Of Knowledge” (strongly caution) there is a small picture of three bikini-clad young women shaking their derri√®res before the camera. This was the picture Google had selected on it’s news aggregator to highlight the several articles on this topic this morning.

In our sexified culture it is considered “emancipated” for a woman to be so “comfortable” with her sexuality that she feels willing to flaunt her body either scantily clothed or free of clothes before the whole world.

I don’t think that it is a sign of a healthy self-image that women are willing and even choose to clothe themselves that way.

I am not for arbitrary requirements in clothing, but it is saddening that, younger and younger, we are compelling out daughters and sisters to choose between frumpy and scandalous.

Removing their modesty with bits of lycra and spandex.

Revealing their bodies for the eyes of all the world.

And then we worry that too many of them are having sex.

I think a healthy self image will result in true self-worth, where the woman will not feel compelled to dress “sexy” to get the approval and acceptance of others.

When a woman is dressing revealingly they are revealing their insecurity, not their assuredness.

The Florida Sun-Sentinel Editorial Board this morning published an article titled “Abstinence-Only Education Needs To Go” (no scandalous images here) in which they completely demolish their own claims, twice.

First, early in the article they lay claim to the moral high ground:

From here, it would be easy to play the blame game. But that would be unproductive. It doesn’t matter if you’re the pro-sex education or abstinence-only type, the statistics speak for themselves, and what matters most is that something be done to make our children more sexually responsible and safe.

And then, in the very next paragraph:

Let’s start with re-tooling the failed abstinence-only approach backed by the Bush administration. Let’s teach teenagers about contraceptives and other precautions that could help protect them if they are sexually active.

Yes, lets avoid the blame game, and lets look at the facts. The Bush Administration has indeed backed and supported an abstinence-only education approach, because no one who practices abstinence contracts an STD, no one. It make sense to back a winner. But how many education programs has the Bush Administrations policy actually affected? Good question.

I would be willing to bet that with state policy, and NEA policy, and DoE policy, there is precious little abstinence-only education going on in the public schools of America.

The article then goes on to make an astounding statement. I very nearly cheered, at work, when I read this:

Abstinence teaching has its merits. It not only promotes a sure-proof defense against STDs and unwanted pregnancies, but also the idea that sexual activity requires a high level of maturity and understanding. An adolescent who engages in “protected” sex prematurely may not run the risk of physical infections, but could be exposed to long-term emotional and psychological damage.

And then gets to the…

BOTTOM LINE: Place more emphasis on contraceptives and STDs in sex-education classes.

And they reached that how?

With this simple caveat they have attempted to justify their entire tortured argument, and by extension, rationalize their continued support for the torture of young minds and bodies with illness both physical and psychological:

Like it or not, half of the teenage girls in this country are already sexually active, according to the study. Something has to be done to make them wiser in their choices, or we soon could have an even bigger public health crisis on our hands.

Do they not see the cruel irony?

Because we’re a bunch hapless, helpless dolts who’ve bought the lie that children are capable of making their own informed decisions regarding sex and mature relationships.

Because we’re a bunch of laissez-faire non-present parental units who feel no particular responsibility to counter the culture’s claims that boys are animals and girls are meat.

Because we’re a bunch of lazy do-gooders who value intentions over actions and outcomes and are willing to allow our children to do whatever they please so long as it makes them feel good.

We will complete ignore what we already know to be true: that premature involvement in adult relationships, emotional and physical, will not only harm the body but will also damage the mind.

So long as we tell enough of them to use condoms, we are perfectly willing to let them hop into bed with any yahoo or floozy who comes along.

Yea, that’s advanced society and parental love for you.

See also:

The Condom Conspiracy: Sex, Lies, STIs and Teenage Girls – the evangelical outpost

While we have Planned Parenthood and sex educators claiming that condoms can “offer effective protection against most serious sexually transmitted infections” the report finds there’s no scientific basis for that claim.

STD Data Comes As No Surprise, Area Teenagers Say – Laura Sessions Stepp and Katherine Shaver in the Washington Post

The Marrow girls offered several reasons why teenagers have sex.

“It’s to fit in, peer pressure,” Christine said, noting that virgins are often mocked. Also, “sex sells on TV.”

Khadijah chimed in that some young girls found their inspiration in the popular R&B singer Rihanna, whose latest album is titled “Good Girl Gone Bad.”

But Christina suggested something closer to home. “Write this down,” she said. “Bad parenting.”