Books Are Better than Siri.

150508162751-ben-carson-and-mom-super-169Glenn and I recently read One Nation, by Dr. Ben Carson. There were many impressive things about the life of this presidential candidate. One early factor that influenced Dr. Carson was the  fact that his mother (left), who was illiterate, decided early on that Ben and his brother were to read two books each week and submit to her a written report on those books. Now, she could not read those reports, but they did not know that. She put checkmarks all over them and underlined passages within them and they were convinced that she was reading them carefully. At first, the boys hated doing this task; one that was required before they could enjoy leisure activities. But soon, as books tend to do, those stories of heroism, adventure and far-away places drew them in. The more they read, the more they wanted to read…and know.  Dr. Carson credits this reading requirement, made by a diligent  mother, who could not read herself,  with his decision to become a physician.

It’s sad to me that, in so many cases today, reading has been replaced by video games, television and iPhones. Kids today can hardly believe that, only about three decades ago, if we wanted
to know about someone or about some historical event, we traveled to the library and looked through some drawers with cards that listed and organized the thousands of books in the building. From the directions on those cards, we could find the books on the library shelves. We then chose several relevant books to take home and we poured through those books till we found the information that we wanted to know. Then we made a trip to return the books. When our kids want to know something, they press the reset button on their phones until Siri says, “How may I help you?”.

But something is missing when all of our questions are answered by Siri or even by typing a key word in a search bar. So often the search engine takes us to the answer to the specific query but we bypass all the peripheral knowledge that we accessed in the “old days” during the search. The search was the goldmine of knowledge and, yes…even wisdom. As Dr. Carson saw, the “answers” to life might not be on the particular page to which that search engine speeds.

bc2baa3dc2b725dae5ac1d36d2ae17d7So, today, I want to encourage you moms to be sure your kids are surrounded by books. Read to them and do so with enthusiasm. Put expression into the “voices” you use for various characters. Be sure the books are wholesome and pure and that the books that are non-fiction really are NON-fiction (not historically revised or politically corrected). Take them to the local library at times when you do not have to be rushed and spend time helping them choose books. Make sure they even have a list of rules about how to care for books and that they properly care for and return borrowed books. (The Mr. Wiggle series of books by Paula Craig and Carol Thompson might be helpful for young children.)  In general, teach them that books are treasures. Of course, it’s okay to do research online, but your kids will benefit from loving books, too…the kind they can carry around with them and pass along to their children and grandchildren one day.

This year, the girls in the West Huntsville church, as a part of their Lads to Leaders participation, are being given the opportunity to complete the Information Resources section of the Keepers at Home program.  Each student will collect and organize (or locate) a minimum of twenty books (digital and/or hardcopy) including recipe books, literary classics, Bible resource books, and children’s literature. This collection of resources must be seen and approved by a Keepers mentor. This “library” will be used at least once during the year in (a) entertaining young children without pay while their parents are working in a church-related activity or (b) conducting a Bible study with a non-Christian or a new Christian.

Of course, meeting this goal will not make these girls voracious readers, but at least it’s a baby step in their personal library development. I’m grateful to Peggy Coulter for volunteering to oversee this “book collecting” activity. I know the girls will benefit from actually using their libraries to bring glory to our Father in our congregation.

Perhaps, even if your church is not doing the Lads program, you can develop a similar program to foster a love of books and a willingness to use books to accomplish great things in His vineyard. I’m thankful our children are being trained in the Lads to Leaders Program (www.lads2leaders.com) and especially for the Keepers at Home portion of the program as well as it’s counterpart for boys called, simply, Providers.

 

Sister to Sister: Figuring Out Godliness–The Exciting Conclusion =)

Are You Up to the Challenge?

 

11270664_10152744265201384_2434744574414167591_oNevertheless she will be saved in childbearing if they continue in faith, love, and holiness, with self-control.

Scholars have had varying views about what “she will be saved in childbearing” means.  Some believe that it means women are saved because it was a woman who gave birth to the Messiah. They reason that it was through that miraculous “childbearing” in Bethlehem, that we are all saved. Of course there’s a sense in which that’s true, but I believe the passage more directly applies to the practical roles of Christian women. Let me explain.

Throughout New Testament writings there is an obvious emphasis on the role of Christian women in the home. There is great wisdom in this emphasis. Can you imagine how large our churches would be today if every Christian mother since the day of Pentecost had successfully raised her children to be faithful to the Lord? It staggers the imagination!

I believe the Holy Spirit in verses 11-14 teaches what women cannot do in service to the Lord. I believe in verse 15, He gives us the flip side of the coin. I believe He is teaching women what we can best do if we want to build the church. We can bear children and raise them to be faithful, full of love, holy and self-controlled.  I believe He is teaching us that when we, as Christian women, do this most important of all women’s jobs successfully, we will necessarily be mothers who are walking in a saved condition.  Children can grow up and learn faith from other sources besides Mom. But if they do learn faith from Mom—a faith that calls them to be set apart from the world; holy—then Mom necessarily had to have a strong faith to transfer. If the Mom was privileged to teach them to love the Lord with all of their hearts, souls, strength, and minds, then that says a lot about the fervor of Mom’s love.  If they got a self control from Mom that’s big enough to keep them from that roaring lion who seeks to devour them, then Mom had to have a serious spiritual focus. Simply put, if I am the one who gives my children a faith that will take them to heaven, I must be on the road to heaven myself.

The devil is busy. The world is enticing. The culture is challenging. But my place is here. My time is now. Whether I am the woman striving to be godly on the inside and out, or the man who is trying to grow into the spiritual leader of a righteous home, God can use me when I examine his Word, find my role and fill it. But I must also look for others who are finding their life’s direction in the same great Book. I must look to these people for my influences, my encouragement, and my best friends. It is from this circle that I will one day find my spouse. Husbands can be great leaders when they choose women who are true to their profession of godliness. Women, likewise, find their greatest potential filled when they are willing to be molded into God’s women, even when it means going against the grain of a culture of feminism. May we help each other be submissive to His will as we find our places in the body of Christ.

Sister to Sister: Unabashedly Domestically Inclined

apronmatchingThe Biblical Term

It’s the word that’s translated “keepers at home” or “workers at home” in Titus 2:4. It’s “oikouros”. It means “a stayer at home, i.e. domestically inclined (a “good housekeeper”):–keeper at home.” It’s polarizing in our feminist culture. It’s often explosive even in Bible classes. But whatever it is, it is the Spirit’s label for the calling that’s part of a larger picture of women who are following sound doctrine (vs. 1) and who are living so as to discourage blasphemy of that Spirit (vs. 5). Whatever “oikouros” is, it’s in an important list and, if we are God’s women, we must be able to say that it describes our lives. It is almost too much to say aloud among women today, but God’s women must be “stayers at home, domestically inclined, keepers at home.” It is not ours to manipulate the term. It is ours to make sure we comply.

The New Lads to Leaders Program

The Lads to Leaders program is a great tool for putting leadership skills in our young people. I have long been a proponent and my confidence in the program has grown as our own children identified and developed the gifts that would make them most useful as adults in the body. You can read a Lads alumnus’ short synopsis of the program’s value at http://www.calebcolley.com/lads-leaders-spiritual-growth/.

While I would be hesitant to ever criticize a program that has so richly blessed our own family and motivated godly leadership in literally thousands of young people, I’ve always thought there has been a missing component in the lineup of events and categories of participation…

…Until now. The Lads to Leaders schedule of events and rule book now includes a program called Keepers–short for Keepers at Home. Based on the admonition of Titus 2:3-5 for older women to teach younger women in the body to be “keepers at home”, the program involves our young girls learning to cook, sew, iron, administer first aid, clean house, and much more. It focuses on skills that our girls will no longer learn in a home economics class, but things, nonetheless, that are most important to a home’s economy. Best of all, it’s based on the Titus 2 model. This hands-on mentoring by godly older women will foster friendships that will benefit both those who are teaching the skills and those being mentored. It’s a win/win.

I wish this portion of the program had been a part of my daughter’s Lads to Leaders experience. It would have reinforced much of what I was attempting to teach her at home. I am glad it is available for many of your daughters and for the grand-daughters (yes, I am trusting!) who will one day bake cookies in my kitchen! I can get pretty excited just thinking about that! I am unabashedly thankful to be a keeper at home.
You can read about the program at http://www.lads-to-leaders.org/Keepers%20guidelines.pdf.

We started our Keepers program last Wednesday in a room full of girls who have beautiful hearts for Him. May the Word never be blasphemed as we work to put it into the hearts of our kids. May the homes our daughters one day keep be safe havens for husbands and children who, if trends continue, will desperately need refuge from a society that is ever more intolerant of Christianity.

Blessings of Keeping

Keeping scrapbooks and photos and memories,
Keeping late hours as seamstress and maid,
Keeping up with appointments, schoolwork and chores,
Keeping guard when someone is afraid.

Keeping food in the pantry and gas in the car,
Keeping warranties, coupons, receipts,
Keeping bouquets of dandelions, locks of blonde hair,
Keeping score when the children compete.

Keeping tabs on where everyone’s going,
Being sure that my cell phone is near.
Keeping sleeping bags stashed in my closet
For those friends who always end up here.

But mostly just keeping on keeping on,
For life’s about sowing and reaping,
When one day my home finds a place at his throne
I’ll praise him for blessings of keeping.

CCSig

This is Controversial. But Why?

Sometimes we just get in our own way. Sometimes we would just be so much better off as God’s women if we could just submit to His will, willingly and wholly, instead of trying to be His, in name, and yet play the world’s feministic game. We decided a few decades ago that we could do just as well chasing careers as we could chasing children. And so, by and large, our children got away from us. We’re losing them to the world in huge numbers. We can recklessly blame lots of things: inept youth ministers, school influences, weak church leaders, television–a litany of evils. But really, the buck stops at home. We can’t turn out Timothys if we have failed to be Loises and Eunices. If we fail to spend time with our kids we can’t put the Word in them in the Deuteronomy 6 way. And if they don’t get the Word in them according to Deuteronomy six, then why should we expect the result of Deuteronomy six teaching: that they should walk in the ways of the Lord all of the days of their lives. It really doesn’t take a village to raise a child. In fact, I am convinced that it’s our villages–the culture of materialism around us–that has most dangerously influenced our homes. It’s the village to which we sometimes leave our children that draws them from God.

That’s the ultimate price that we often pay for feminism. But there are other lesser prices, too. We wanted to find fulfillment outside the home forty years ago. So we left the challenging and very rewarding (and very Biblical) arena of raising our children, being keepers at home and being helpers to our husbands for desk jobs and corporate partnerships, teaching positions and medical careers. Some women traded the home-keeping business for less lucrative positions as underlings to more successful men and women. But many, if not most, did so, not to put food on the table, but, instead, to take the family out to eat more often. They were not keeping a roof over their heads, but were rather making sure there was lots of square footage under that roof along with tasteful decorations, multiple bathrooms and a well-stocked entertainment center. The casualties are sometimes the little people living in that very square footage we’ve worked so hard to provide.

But what are some of the other prices we pay (besides our inability to maximize the hours of faith-injection in our kids)? I’ve noticed several price tags in recent weeks. One is that the more we work outside the home, the more we are expected to work outside the home. Case in point: Several young ministers applying for jobs in churches recently have told me that the elders were unwilling or unable to pay the young families enough to adequately support them, so they indicated that the young preachers’ wives could “get a job to supply the rest of the needed income.” Something is wrong with that picture. Have we really come to the point in our churches in which elders believe it’s the minister’s wife’s responsibility to provide basic monetary support for the pulpits in our churches? That’s not the idea, for sure, In I Corinthians 9.

Secondly, there are those men in some of our churches today who are fearful of implementing programs which facilitate our older women teaching our girls how to be keepers at home. The reasons being given include a fear that women will get the idea that we think they should be staying at home and raising their own children. Or perhaps women will resent the study….It might portray housework as not really being an “equally shared responsibility” in the home. Or perhaps women might feel denigrated if we emphasize domestic skills like sewing and cooking, cleaning and ironing. Have we come to the point that Titus 2:3-5 is actually offensive to women in our pews today? Are some church leaders even afraid of the ire of feministic women in congregations? The phrase “keeper at home” is still there in Titus 2 and it still means “one who looks after the home; a domestic.” Is the Word so old-fashioned that we can prohibit its teachings in our churches?

Thirdly, I believe women in the workplace, many times, lose the precious commodity of a heart that hates sin. I have been amazed, recently, as I have learned of “Christian” women reading pornographic novels, being comfortable with vulgarity of language, dressing more and more immodestly, even undergoing abortions, and freezing multiple fetuses fertilized in test tubes–babies that they produced, but never planned to raise. I hear of more and more of my sisters who have become involved in adultery and have even left their children for these relationships. There’s a litany of sins of which we are becoming ever more accepting and tolerant. Now, do not get me wrong. I do not think women’s jobs are always the culprit, or even the catalyst. But I know that in many of the cases with which I am personally familiar, the associations at the office or school or hospital, combined with little time for Bible study and prayer make for an easy exit from the narrow path to the broad way that leads to destruction. When we are around the world and away from the little innocent hearts that constantly remind us of a higher calling, it just becomes easy for us to lose the heavenward focus and be sucked into the mentality that pivots on the here and now. The more we say “yes” to promotions and career climbing, the less time we have for prayer and family devotions. Furthermore, if we don’t have time to think about spiritual things, our consciences become less and less potent and we become more and more accepting of the world.

Did I say it’s always wrong for any woman to work outside the home? No. Did I say there are no situations in which women can make supplemental incomes and still “be there” for family? No. Do I think every woman can possibly have the luxury to be at home with her kids every day? No. Does it even matter what I say? No.

But God’s Word still calls us to be “keepers at home.” Whatever I am, I must be sure that I am that. But even aside from the clear statement in Titus 2, I think I could figure out that there’s often a big price for following a career path that takes me away from home and children. I’m going to keep pointing this out because 1) I’ve known women who figured this out in the nick of time and saved a lot of heartache, 2) I’ve known several women who figured this out when it was too late–eternally too late–for their children, 3) I’ve known several divorces which would most likely have not occurred had a woman chosen to stay home and raise her children and 4) I personally can attest to the fact that being a keeper at home is one of the most fulfilling and rewarding ventures of this life for God’s women. I want to share the wealth.

Finally, I know this is the most controversial thing I urge women to do. I will likely be unable to answer all of the mail and messages I will receive as a result of this post. They will not all be pleasant. I can hardly believe that we’ve come to the point in the body of God that the teaching we hate most, as women, is that we really should optimally stay home with our babies and raise them ourselves…for God. But we are there. May God help us to realize that the needs of babies have not changed in the last half-century. It is a deep and threatening desire to be like the culture around us that endangers our faithfulness and that of our children. May He help us to be transformed by a renewal of our minds (Rom. 12:2) as we turn our hearts toward home.

Great Idea for Community Outreach!

Recently while visiting the state of California and speaking at the Tahoe Encampment, I discussed with the ladies there some service ideas for reaching out to non-Christians in our communities. Following one of these sessions a sister approached me to share an idea that the ladies in her congregation have adopted. I love this project!

Most of us have Neonatal Intensive Care Units in our local hospitals. As you may know, the babies in these units, mostly preemies, are usually kept alive for a time by incubation and other life-saving technology that prevents the babies from being held or nursed by their mothers, for an extended time. Research indicates that it’s helpful to introduce these babies to the scent of their mothers even while in incubation so that once a baby is able to be held and nursed, he is already familiar with the “smell” of his mother and even the scent of her milk.

Here’s where the women in your congregation can come in. The following instructions are for little NICU dolls. These tiny dolls are made by Christian women and delivered, along with some information about the church, to the NICU nursing staff. The staff then distributes the dolls to the mothers of the NICU babies.  The mothers sleep with these little dolls in their gowns or even in their bras, transferring their own scents to the little dolls. The dolls are then placed in the NICU cribs, so that each baby becomes accustomed to the unique maternal scent of her own mother. This  makes the transition later from NICU to mother’s arms feel a bit more secure. The new environment just feels a little less foreign to the baby who has survived the initial struggle for life.

So here you go. Call up your hospital and see if you can be the first to minister to babies and mothers in your area in this sweet way. I believe a new mother just  might want to visit the congregation and meet the ladies who cared enough to reach out in this tender way during her baby’s struggle for life. It might even be a good idea to include a parenting book in the package with your doll–a book that includes the plan of salvation. A new mother could make good use of the reading time while she waits to be able to hold her precious child.   “Suffer the little ones to come to me, for of such is the kingdom of heaven.” (Instructions borrowed from the “Threads of Love” program.)

Materials:

  • Tube Socks (Toddler size 24-36mo)
  • Hypoallergenic fiberfill
  • 1⁄4” ribbon
  • non-toxic fabric markers (permanent) in red and black
  • Yarn or Crochet thread
  • Needle and thread
  • Label

Note: 20 oz of fiberfill and 10 yd of ribbon makes about 32 NICU dolls

  1. Stuff sock to where the pattern of the knitting changes. Stuff until it measures about 8” around and 8” long.
  2. Tie open end of sock securely with yarn or crochet thread. (the ribbed part of the sock will be above the yarn)
  3. Measure down from the tie approx 3”  Tie 1⁄4” ribbon to form neck. Tie ribbon into bow.
    1. Fold cuff/ribbing down to form a bonnet. Fold a small ‘cuff’ curving around the face and covering the ‘ears’ and ‘neck’ to make the bonnet.
    2. Use matching thread and needle to secure the bonnet into place
    3. Tack bow securely with needle and thread so baby can’t untie it.
    4. Sew label, with scripture or name of your congregation by hand to bottom front. If you prefer to machine sew, you can attach label to the top of sock before stuffing. Make sure to position label so that it will be right-side up when the ‘cuff’ of the hat is formed, and on the front side of the doll.

     

Clips are Keepers and February’s Digging Deep Study

So all the people who hated the Keeper’s Clip did not write in and say so. That means all the response has been positive! As a result, we’ve decided to make the Keeper’s Clip a regular feature to conclude the monthly Digging Deep Podcast. Each month we will feature one of you sharing your best advice, craft, project, cleaning tip, child-rearing idea, sewing secret, creative coupon-ing secret, decorating idea, hospitality helper…you name it. If it can help a woman enjoy being a godly keeper at home, we will consider it. So, we’re leaving this up to you. Send us your best five to fifteen minute video. It doesn’t have to be professional, but it does have to be easily understood. The audio needs to be clear enough so that we can all follow the directions or advice. It needs to be a fairly frugal idea (not a ton of materials, money or prior expertise involved.) If you read something, make sure it is not copyrighted and make sure all clothing in the clip is modest. All clips become our property and we do have rights to edit for the best presentation. All clips shown on the podcast will be archived in the Keepers section of www.thecolleyhouse.org. I’m expecting big things from some of you Pinterest addicts, but let’s try to come up with some original material here, too. The featured keeper each month will receive your one free pick from The Colley House materials. If you see your clip, just email me with your pick to claim the prize. So, lights, camera, action! Send your film on a DVD to West Huntsville Church of Christ, Keepers at Home Clips, 1519 Old Monrovia Road, Huntsville, AL  35806.

Remember for this month to read through the Samuels and Kings in the Old Testament. List each king, beginning with Saul, David and Solomon and then have a king list for each kingdom (Northern and Southern). Under each king’s name, list the major events of his reign and give him a plus or minus (Was he a king with primarily a good influence or a negative influence?) At next month’s podcast our focus will be to determine whether or not the kings were a good idea and what the causes of the eventual captivity were. We will also try to learn how we avoid the bondage of sin (modern captivity) using lessons learned from ancient Israel and Judah.