An Assignment – Part One

I’m writing this as an assignment to “self-assess” but I thought I’d post it here and see if I can get any feedback, or just post to space for giggles. I was going to wait and post it all at once but changed my mind (because it has become extremely long) and am posting it as I write. Enjoy!

Qualifications of Called Revival Leaders

From 1 Timothy 3:2-7

NIV “2 Now the overseer is to be above reproach, faithful to his wife, temperate, self-controlled, respectable, hospitable, able to teach, 3 not given to drunkenness, not violent but gentle, not quarrelsome, not a lover of money. 4 He must manage his own family well and see that his children obey him, and he must do so in a manner worthy of full respect. 5 (If anyone does not know how to manage his own family, how can he take care of God’s church?) 6 He must not be a recent convert, or he may become conceited and fall under the same judgment as the devil. 7 He must also have a good reputation with outsiders, so that he will not fall into disgrace and into the devil’s trap.”

KJV “2 A bishop then must be blameless, the husband of one wife, vigilant, sober, of good behavior, given to hospitality, apt to teach; 3 Not given to wine, no striker, not greedy of filthy lucre; but patient, not a brawler, not covetous; 4 One that ruleth well his own house, having his children in subjection with all gravity; 5 (For if a man know not how to rule his own house, how shall he take care of the church of God?) 6 Not a novice, lest being lifted up with pride he fall into the condemnation of the devil. 7 Moreover he must have a good report of them which are without; lest he fall into reproach and the snare of the devil.”

There’s always an interesting difference between the King James and NIV translations. I like to know them both. NIV may be in a more current language, but the KJV is typically more precise its use of words. There is a difference between “faithful to his wife” and “the husband of one wife”.

First of all, what is a “called revival leader” in my heart? The author of the book refers to an “overseer” as a “called revival leader”. And the KJV calls it a “bishop”. I’m not interested in becoming an “overseer” or any type of formal pastor, but I am interested in how I can develop biblical leadership skills to make my own life an example to those around me indirectly. If and when the need arises in my life, I want to be able to say “I’ve got this. I’m ready.” So I’m studying as if I plan on leading some day. I wonder if more people should do this. Instead of pushing aside any study for leadership, religious and secular, we all took some time to learn good leadership skills if only to know what good leadership is and use it in our own lives and homes.

Do I have the skills that this passage lists? I’m not sure. I believe I have some of them naturally and some I may need to develop further. That is what study is all about, right? I’ve decided to list them out and comment on how they pertain to me and my life, what I believe about them at this moment. I wonder what I will think of these words a year from now?

  1. Leaders who stay out of trouble. NIV “above reproach”, KJV “blameless”

What do they mean by “stay out of trouble”? Those are the words the author and president of this school use in stead of the biblical words, but all are a bit vague. Do they mean “out of trouble” with the law? The church? The family? If I break a law because I believe it is unjust, I may get into trouble, but is that what they mean? I’ve always been one to naturally want to stay out of any trouble. I’d say I’m “trouble averse” and it hasn’t always served me well. I tend to not do things I believe are right or good for fear of getting into trouble. But then, it did serve me very well when the police came knocking on my door. Due to my clean record and lack of anyone that would speak against me, it was easier for my lawyer to get the charges against me dropped. So I’d say I do stay out of trouble. I certainly do not go looking for it.

  1. Leaders who do not practice polygamy. NIV “faithful to his wife”, KJV “the husband of one wife”

The first thing I notice is that I’m female, so should I just turn the words around? I believe so, yes. The authors were coming from a culture where only males would be even thinking of anything like leadership outside the home. Women had children and homes to take care of for most of their lives, focusing outside of that realm wouldn’t be prudent for anyone. I’m of the same mind, actually and wouldn’t be looking at this course of study if my children were younger. In fact, I did put aside quite a bit of outside study and work when I was newly married, learning to care for a home, and raising young children. That was where I felt my limited focus should be. If I looked too far outside of that, all my efforts suffered. I couldn’t do it all and everything I had a hand in was done less well because of my lack of focus. But I’m getting beyond that time now, as many women can in this age. Our roles can change throughout our lives because technology makes it easier for us to care for our homes and husbands. We also don’t have as many children, so there comes a time in our lives when we aren’t needed at home 24/7. That’s when it becomes appropriate to begin to expand our focus outside of our homes. So here I am, applying 2000 year old words to my modern life.

But why would they put these words in there? Why “one wife”? Many societies were polygamists back then. It was nothing new or wrong. Why would we shift from polygamy to monogamy, and why would the new Christian church make such a big deal of it? That’s what I plan on learning through more of this study.

  1. Leaders who are sober or temperate in attitude. NIV “temperate” KJV “vigilant”

The book says this refers to good judgment, not taken to jumping to conclusions, being balanced in thinking. This is something I would definitely work on, and have been working on for the past several years. It is not my nature to be cool headed. I am one to act first and think later, to judge others by their outward actions instead of wondering more at their intentions. I honestly believe this can be a learned skill.

  1. Leaders who exhibit moderation. NIV “self-controlled” KJV “sober”

The Greek word for sober means “safe mind”. This seems related to the temperate and vigilant. They could all be lumped together, and it still something I’m working on. Again, I tend to speak before thinking things through. I “think out loud” and that isn’t always conducive to helping people. It can produce more damage than silence.

  1. Leaders who act orderly and respectable. NIV “respectable” KJV “of good behavior”

The Greek word for “order” is Kosmos. Is orderly “respectable” and “good behavior”? Is that what the bible means? Do they mean that someone who has their life and things in “order” would be respectable? If so, then I would say I’m exhibiting this trait. I’ve spent the last fifteen years attempting to being order to home and thinking, and I believe I do a fairly good job of it.

Definitions

For the past couple of weeks, I’ve been having a recurring thought. Do we not have a common understanding of language? Are we using words in the best ways? I’ve never been very good at using vocabulary, especially when speaking out loud. Sometimes when I’m explaining something, I just can’t seem to get my meaning across. My words fall short of my thinking. When I’m writing, sometimes I can take the time to find a better word or phrase, re-think,to and re-write, but when I’m speaking it just comes out badly. My sons are the first to draw my attention to it. They are much better at getting to the bottom of things, really finding the meaning.

A while back, while I was driving I had this same thought. Are we all using the same driving rules? We all talk about how bad other drivers are, how unsafe and illogical they are. There is no one I’ve talked to that thinks other drivers are doing fine. Then I wonder, am I driving the way I think I am? By the way, here I am, not getting my point across very well at all. I’ll try again.

When I say “people drive like they can’t see more than ten feet in front of them”, do I go out and drive in a similar way not realizing that I’m doing it and the people around me are thinking the same thing I was thinking? When I say people are driving “unsafely”, do we all agree on the meaning of “unsafe”?

I was thinking the same thing when talking to some people about “responsibility”. When I say “people aren’t acting in responsible ways”, “no one takes care of their own responsibilities, they always want someone else to pay for their lives”, do we all have the same definition? I’m starting to think we don’t. I’m starting to think that we need to write out definitions when we are trying to get our point across. We could exchange dictionaries before we have a conversation, or have a glossary of terms for everything we write! Sounds a bit tedious.

Here’s the interesting part though. This week on my Great Books reading list was Locke’s “Concerning Human Understanding”. I’m not reading the whole book, just certain chapters. I found this quote today.

“The chief end of language in communication being to be understood, words serve not well for that end, neither in civil nor philosophical discourse, when any word does not excite in the hearer the same idea which it stands for in the mind of the speaker.” Chapter 9, #4

Well, there you have it! Even if we are both speaking American English, we may not understand each other. We all have different experiences that make up how we feel and how we see the world. When I say “responsible” it may not mean anything like what you see as the meaning I’m trying to convey. It is especially bad for one or two line posts on social media. I could say “Responsible parenting is what we need in this country to bring us closer together.” That could mean anything to anyone! All those words could have completely different connotations to each individual reading them.

I’m also reading an awesome book I’d never heard of but I found it in a pile of used books a friend was giving away. I just saw “Orson Scott Card” and picked it up. I loved “Ender’s Game”, this should be interesting. Little did I know it would amaze me so much! I’m in love with it before the end of the first hundred pages. Today I came across this gem.

“There was no way he could even begin to discuss such concepts with Katerina. Even if he had enough Old Church Slavonic to speak these thoughts, he doubted she’d have the philosophical background to understand them.” Enchantment, page 78

Earlier he had said to her “Look.” when he wanted her to listen to what he had to say about the situation he had found himself in. Something as simple as that can get twisted around and become unclear to someone you are trying to communicate with.

I guess what I’m coming to find out is that it isn’t that everyone around me has lost their minds or that we are all so stupid or self-centered that we can’t listen to each other. I’m finding that we, our own country and more widely, the whole world, has moved more toward misunderstanding than away from it. Yes, we have the internet to disseminate information and more people are literate in the world than every before, but we aren’t understanding each other. And worse yet, we think we are. Most of us don’t even realize that we are speaking a different language, that we don’t agree on the terms and definitions.

Whoa. Hold on. Remember the story of Babel? Did we begin to build a tower and say in our hearts, “We will be more powerful than God!”? Did advances in communication and science begin to replace our faith in something greater than we could ever know? Has our language been confused and our people scattered?

Fear

Today I started the Introduction class at Christian Leaders Institute. I plan on working on it for one hour at least five days a week. I listened to the “Tips for Success” video this morning and found my “trigger”, my weakness, my fear embodied. He said, “Find a mentor. A real person. Someone to talk to.” Aye, there’s the rub. What’s the big deal, you ask? Well, I’m afraid of people, especially ones related to the church. Of course, the problem has a trauma associated with it and I’m hoping these courses might just help me heal that scar up for good.

I fell in love with Jesus at Shoreline Baptist Church about 13 years ago. I attended regular Sunday services. I went to Ladies Bible Study and desert after. I helped at Sunday school from time to time. I was even baptized, for real, in front of God and everybody! And when something terrible happened to me, I turned around for support and there was no one there. The church had let me down. And I was crushed. Something like this may have turned me away from God, blaming Him, but it didn’t. I blamed His children and I haven’t been back since.

Sitting at my kitchen table, listening to the video, I started thinking about it again. It seems ridiculous to be so hurt by a group of people and not trust the church again. Do I not trust that God will do what’s best for me? Ultimately, the betrayal was good for me. I am no longer naïve. Humans do bad things even Christians. They are not to be hated but loved and prayed for in the hopes that we all learn and grow. Maybe I was beginning to fall in love too much with the Church itself and not so much with Jesus and the word of God. In my pain and loneliness, I turned to the bible, study, and prayer. I felt better but alone.

Since then, I’ve always longed to be a part of a church family. I want to go to Sunday service, be a part of what goes on but I just can’t bring myself to go. I don’t want to go alone. I want a friend that already goes there to take me with them. And I have very few friends, let alone in real life ones. So I sit and wait for God to lead me to His children. I have found a small leaf of fellowship since I started working at the pregnancy clinic in town but they all have their own churches and I haven’t been invited. I’m only there once a week. And then I think, what if they did invite me? Would I go? Would I feel overwhelmed by having one more thing to do? What about just going to a women’s bible study instead of service? What about a Wednesday night service instead? I don’t know. I’m scared.

If I could change anything about myself it would be my mistrust or fear of people. I’m constantly worried about social situations, if I’m doing it right, do they think I’m weird. You’d think I’d just stay away but I crave it. I want to be part of the group. I want to belong but when I’m there I feel out of place and desperate to leave. It’s therapy worthy.

Oh well. I’ll keep up with my classes and see where it goes. I’m sure the Lord has got this if it’s His will for me to use this knowledge. The right person or place will show up just when I need it. It always happens that way for me.

Milton’s “Paradise Lost”

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I usually check out Wikipedia first when I start reading a book on my list. It helps me get an overview of the author, the period it was written in, and what the book is about. I may find links to other information as well as learn a little about the political climate the book was written in, which is always fascinating to me. This time the thing that stuck out to me was that it was published about twenty years after Galileo died. That puts the work into my own mental time line. I wasn’t excited to read this at first. It’s “epic poetry” and that isn’t usually my favorite, but this ended up being very different. I couldn’t put it down. It just flowed so well while reading it. I could see the story in my mind and it brought me much joy. I realized quickly that this poem was kind of like today’s “fan fiction” in that it took a story from the bible and expanded on it, adding details and imagery that weren’t in the original work. I loved it…until it got toward the end and he put a lot of his current views on the role of women in the story that I don’t believe were in the biblical accounts. When I read the bible, I don’t see the negative, “less than” roles that people put on women. I see help-meet, equal, loved/created by God, not as man’s servant but as his partner. I don’t see a patriarchal system set up by God.

While reading, I wondered where Milton got his imagery of Satan and started looking into it. There is a whole lot mentioned in the bible about Satan, his physical appearance, or where he came from, from what I remember. I started reading a site called https://christianity.stackexchange.com/, it led me to some interesting discussions.

There were some amazingly wonderful scenes and descriptions. One of my favorites is the Fall of Lucifer and how he became Satan. And the rise of Sin and Death. It goes something like Lucifer fell because of Sin, Sin has the key to Hell, Sin gave birth to Death, Death has no one to consume in Hell so he tortures Sin, Satan goes to this new world to find some place to set Sin and Death free. Yikes! Sounds like a Greek myth, doesn’t it?

What’s interesting to me is that none of this is in the bible, so where did these ideas come from and why do have them so set as Christian doctrine, or at least in our minds as such? That’s what I’m aiming to find out! I’ve started new online classes at https://www.christianleadersinstitute.org/ I’ve always wanted to take seminary classes and this is free, online, and self-paced.

I’m so glad I read this book! It was a wonderful read. I may even read it again some day!

And now spinners are going to ruin the world.

I logged onto Facebook yesterday morning to find several “friends” sharing articles about how a small non-tech physics toy is going to destroy our children. Really? It was pretty alarming not because of the toy but that seemingly normal people would come to a conclusion like this.

People. Stop for just a moment. Think. You’re talking about a toy. A small bearing, like the ones in your old rollerblades, that you hold in your hand and watch spin when you’re bored out of your mind. Yep. Sounds dangerous for sure.

Here’s the thing. Boredom is real and seems to be happening more and frequently in a child’s life. And I’m not talking the summer time “I’m bored because my time is usually taken up by school and friends and now I’m stuck at home with my brother all day.” kind of boredom. I’m talking soul-sucking, incessant, mind altering boredom, the “This meeting is going on forever! He’s saying nothing I haven’t heard or read. And if I don’t get out of here I’m going to explode!” kind. And it’s being done to children at a younger age every year. We expect children that are way too young to sit still, listen, and follow directions way too much and too early. They have few, if any, breaks. They are compelled to learn too many things in a way that is far from developmentally appropriate and then we sit and scratch our heads why more and more children are becoming depressed, anxiety ridden, overweight, and aggressive. As these kids age, we wonder why they are becoming withdrawn, outwardly angry, and obnoxious. It’s amazing to me really.

And it’s not just schools. Parents at home are attempting after school to direct every move a child makes. And expecting children to comply with these directives and not ever be sad, angry, slow, or inattentive. I see it at the playground, at the grocery store, and in restaurants. It’s depressing really.

Let the children play! I know you want to just get through the grocery store, but you gave birth to a child and now that child needs you. I know you want to sit through a dinner out and have a conversation, but you have a two-year-old. It’s not going to happen, well, not without damaging the child and the relationship.

And then there is the amazingly alluring bandwagon of “Whatever Children See as Entertaining and Fun is Inherently Evil”! I swear if kids didn’t want a toy, parents and educators everywhere would be asking the government to set up a program to make sure all kids had one and were required to use it so many hours a day. Kids like things that adults usually don’t. It’s a fact of nature. Get over it. Yes, you think it’s stupid but they don’t. Try an exercise in seeing things from someone else’s point of view and engage your children, find out what is attractive about the thing. Children are humans with their own set of needs and wants that are just as important as yours.

And finally, is a spinning distracting toy the first thing any bored person has every played with to pass the time and ease anxiety while waiting through something horribly boring? No. When I was a kid we folded up pieces of paper and flicked them across desks, we’d bend paper clips so that they’d flip open and bounce, we’d tap pencils, and slide them through our fingers, we’d spin spoons around on the table or flick pennies so they’d spin like tops. Then our parents/teachers would give us “the look” and we’d put them in our pockets and try to bare through another dinner with Aunt Janice or lecture about why we’d need the Pythagorean Theorem…again…God forbid that a child try to pass the time with some fun, or attempt to quell the anxiety welling up inside them as they listen to a teacher talk about something far from their interests. I wonder if a kid had made one of these fidget toys it would be ok. Is it just that someone manufactured them and marketed them? Probably.

Yes, there are some kids that naturally sit still and listen attentively. I personally believe those are the kids you need to watch out for, something creepy and less intelligent in my opinion. Most kids need to move. They need to get busy. They need to be active agents in their lives with adults to support and encourage their exploration. I bet if you got rid of the classroom, most of the anxiety would disappear. I know I hear people saying we (as a nation) need to “keep up” with China and Japan when it comes to math and science, but at what cost? Do we really need to? That’s a whole other post.

Leave people alone. There is no toy on the planet that will destroy the world, unless maybe it’s nuclear powered or something. How about this? If you or your child seem to have a lot of symptoms of anxiety that need to helped by fidgety toys, drugs, and therapy, maybe you should look at what’s causing that anxiety and see if you can get rid of it. You don’t keep spraying air freshener and never go find out where the smell is coming from and remove the item!

I googled “fidget toy bad” and found all kinds of crazy articles. The one at the end of this post was my favorite. Also, I think I’m going to go out and buy one just to see what the craze is all about. Oh! One more thing, my sons knew about these toys before me. They are homeschooled and don’t have a lot of schooled friends, or friends at all really. They aren’t sequestered or anything, they’re just introverts much like their Dad, Grandfather, Uncle, etc. They just aren’t interested in a lot of socializing. They knew about the toy because they are mentioned in memes and videos. When we were at the observatory last week, they were amazed that they really are everywhere. They marveled at people spinning “in the wild”! There were several middle and high school field trips that day and just about every other kid had one spinning. Crazy.

http://lemonlimeadventures.com/5-reasons-to-ban-fidget-spinners-from-every-classroom-in-america/

Social Skills

Have you ever met a socially awkward person, young or old? Have you ever wondered if they were that way because of the school environment they were raised in? There’s a 99% chance they were raised in a school. So why is it that when people meet an awkward child or teen, and know they are homeschooled because they have already been talking with the parent or the child has mentioned it, do they ask themselves or the parent of that person is acting that way because they were homeschooled? It just seems odd to me.

Personally, I believe all people are some combination of socially introverted or extroverted. School forces everyone to socialize to the same degree, and the group punishes those who are naturally over extroverted or introverted than that chosen norm. Home educated people are more generally accepted for who they are. I say “generally” because most homeschooling parents today were schooled themselves and have a skewed idea of the range of personality. They bring the school mentality into their homes and harass their children into being the school accepted norm of sociability. But some parents are going against their training, remembering their childhood and how much they wish the personality and person they were born as was respected and nurtured. This kind of home education, respecting the growing personality of the child to grow and mature into who they really are naturally, produces a broad range of sociable humans. These humans are more likely to grow up to be completely comfortable with who they are. They do not pretend to be more or less outgoing than they feel. They stay home when they want to, go to the movies or museum alone if they want to, and seek out only the company they care to keep, not the company they think others (their superiors) think they should. There is also the opposite, those that seek out all the company and social experience they want without worrying about what other people are doing. They are mentally healthier and happier people.

If I had my druthers, I’d be able to put it into people’s heads that there are all kinds of people in this world, the old adage “It takes all kinds.” and not in a negative way. School is not where you learn who you are and how to become the best person you are born to be. It’s where another group of people train you to think and act in the way that will best benefit another group of people. Step outside of it and become the real you, then take your children and let them become real as well. “There is no spoon.”

Fixing Things

When I was working on Fantasmic, a situation came up. I saw something that I believed needed to be maintained. The moving joints on the Pinocchio puppet were stiff and difficult to move. Being on the morning maintenance crew, I took it upon myself to clean it up and oil it. I found a few parts (to me) illogically placed, so I moved them trying to be pro-active and help. The next day I came in to read the previous night’s show report and it said the puppet eyes did not blink. There was a wide-eyed Pinocchio that night and it needed to be repaired. Unknowingly, I had “fixed” it in my eyes but when it was used in production it failed its purpose. The user of the puppet had reasons for “illogically” placing things that my maintenance or design eyes couldn’t see.

This same situation comes up in life every day, especially when we try to create laws and policies for others to abide by. Thinking we are making the world a better place, we are forgetting to take into account other people’s point of view and experience. We are trying to be a designer and maintainer of other people’s lives without considering that the user of that life may have a logical reason for doing what they are doing the way they are doing it.

When we, as liberal minds, want to change things that we believe conservative minds are clinging to for no other reason that it’s “the way we’ve always done it”, we are forgetting that everyone on this earth has their own life to live, their own reasons for being here. Everyone is responsible for their own lives. I am not in charge of how you live your life, or how rich people spend their money, or how poor people spend their time. I am only in charge of my life. I can help others if I want to, but I cannot force others to help them. I can offer my insight or service, but I cannot force others to live by my rules.

We all need to stop and respect the individual and stop trying to control other people’s lives through the force of law.