My heart became hot within me. As I mused, the fire burned; then I spoke with my tongue: "O Lord, make me know my end and what is the measure of my days; let me know how fleeting I am!"

10 May 2007

Just a little more

A couple wise friends have noted, in relation to Carl Trueman's essay ("here we go", below), that we need to be wise and Biblically balanced in discussing women's vocations, especially when it includes homeschooling. I believe their notes are helpful, so I want to put them before you as we continue our conversation.

Jeff rightly noted that it's not a sin for women to work hard and be tired. In fact, if a mother of young children or homeschooled children isn't a little tuckered out at bedtime, one would wonder how well she is fulfilling her calling. We must be careful not to drive our wives to "haggardness" by demanding more than they are capable of - but all of us are called to work six days a week. All of us should know that specific weariness at the very end of a day of Christ-honoring work. That's a good - nay, great - weariness. I hope the distinction is clear.

Another friend pointed out that women, especially women in the congregation I serve, may be wondering, "Does he think I'm haggard and way in over my head?" Let me say that, although I believe this is a problem in the reformed world and one I have observed in the past in local congregations, the women at Immanuel RPC are doing a bang-up job glorifying Christ in their various vocations. If it were not so, it would be the job of the husband and elders to find a way to help her out. I think we can expect the situation Trueman speaks of (a wife unfairly overworked) to surface every now and then. When it does, the church must help - beginning with her husband. But please know that my post was not done with any of the ladies at IRPC in mind.

Finally, the same friend pointed out that God has a pattern of leading men and women through times of stress and incredibly hard work. We are indeed jars of clay and sometimes we are pressed more than at other times. Being "haggard" doesn't necessarily mean something's off; when there are medical problems at home, when God brings a family or individual to a time of concerted effort for the kingdom (starting a church?), when God is dealing with big sin in the family...these can be times of God-ordained "haggardness." But let it be from God and not from insensitive husbands and inattentive churches.

09 May 2007


Many, if not most, Christian families with children know the pain of seeing a child conscientiously and purposefully reject the grace of Jesus. Abraham Piper, the son of pastor John Piper, was one such wayward son, won back to Christ after his wandering. In this article, he shares his perspective as one such prodigal son.

I must confess that, in my haste and speed-reading of blogs, I rarely pause to stop and think. But, for personal and pastoral reasons, Abraham's article made me stop, brought me great conviction and loosed tears from my eyes. If you are near to such a wanderer, please read it.

Piper: And not only is [Jesus] the only point—he’s the only hope. When they see
the wonder of Jesus, satisfaction will be redefined. He will replace the
pathetic vanity of the money, or the praise of man, or the high, or the orgasm
that they are staking their eternities on right now. Only his grace can draw
them from their perilous pursuits and bind them safely to himself—captive, but

He will do this for many. Be faithful and don’t give up.

Here we go again

If you've been keeping up with the comments on the last post, this article might be interesting to you: Challies discusses the spiritual challenges of homeschooling. It is by no means a homeschooling-bashing party, but a pretty frank discussion of what potential problems can come from choosing to educate children at home. I think discussions like this are rare and important; homeschooling is often seen as "the answer" rather than "a good choice."

One of the common motivations for homeschooling is to keep negative influences away from kids - but this is both impossible and (even if it were possible) not a good enough reason. If they are Christians, parents are still sinners, quite able to exert some very negative influences upon their children (as well as the positive, righteous influences). Homeschooling guarantees nothing, though it is often chosen as a guarantee.

To take this a step further, it is God's good and gracious plan that we live life in a covenant community larger than our family. In many churches, when a baby is baptized, the church family enters into that covenant, promising to help the parents in the raising of that child in the fear of the Lord. To edit Hillary Clinton, It Takes a Covenant Village.

I am the federal head of my home, the one responsible for my children's education (what a weighty resopnsibility!), but I refuse to be the only one influencing them. I need their Sunday school teachers, other fathers and mothers, the elders of the session to come alongside and offset my weaknesses and negative influences. My kids need you and your kids need me. The family alone is not sufficient; the covenant community is. This is all to say, when parents choose homeschooling (often a fine and great choice!), they have a responsibility to make sure the natural insulation of homeschooling does not extend to their life in the church.

04 May 2007

Here we go

This is why I really like Carl Trueman: he says stuff everyone else thinks but doesn't say. I would love to hear some thoughts on this post at Ref21's blog:

In the US (and it is the US -- I have not seen this so much in the UK) , I
have lost count of the number of women I have come across, particularly in
presbyterian circles, who feel the need to conform to some Reformed cultural
norm. You can tell them on the Sundays: the exhausted and haggard mothers
whose husbands expect them not only to cook and to clean, but also to
home-school the kids. For every omnicompetent wife who seems to be able to
run the world and then some, and still look like a million dollars when hubbie
gets home for dinner (already on the table, of course), there are ten or more
who look crushed and dispirited, who really need to send their kids out of the
house in the morning so they can get some rest and some mental sanity, who need
their husbands to see the problem and take steps to help them. Are they
inadequate as Christian mothers? No. They are crushed by a
"Christian" culture that demands their all and gives no slack.

I am no feminist (my wife will confirm my impeccable Neanderthal
credentials); I have strong views on women's ordination; but I am saddened by
the way Reformed church culture so often tramples its women underfoot with its
mindless identification of biblical manhood with something akin to John Wayne
and its assumption that all Christian women should make Mary Poppins look
domestically incompetent.

What do you think?