Saturday, September 15, 2007

A Good Pastor

Once upon a time, a congregation was between pastors. They asked a man to serve as vacancy pastor. Having a full-time job, and knowing their financial plight, for three years this man did not accept pay for his weekends preaching and teaching. Years later, people in the congregation would talk about what a good pastor he was, that he gave his paychecks back to the congregation.

It was certainly a generous and lovingly sacrificial thing to do. But what happens in the future when other pastors work full-time caring for the congregation and need their paychecks? According to the Gospel, we don't get what we deserve; God always gives us better than we deserve. If people cannot pay for a pastor, should they be deprived of one? Seems to me the answer should be "no." And yet, how then would the pastor provide for his family?

Wednesday, September 12, 2007

Girls Cry

Back in August, my young friend Matthew and I were talking about the new Harry Potter book. I'd recently finished it, and he was about halfway through. I said something about the parts that made me cry, but of course he didn't want to hear anything about it yet.

Several days later, Matthew had finished the book. We were talking about what we liked, what surprised us, what disappointed us, how we felt about different people's deaths, etc. One thing Matthew wanted to know was "So what was it that made you cry at the end?" He understood my tears over Percy's return. I also told him that I knew, about five pages before it happened, that Neville was going to kill Negini, and that just started the tears to flowing. "But that's a GOOD thing! Why would you cry over that???" I tried to explain, and the closest I could come was pointing out that sometimes people cry at weddings. Well, Matthew could understand how people would get emotional and cry from happiness at a wedding. But this was battle. This was Neville. This was defeating evil. This was altogether different from a wedding!

We fussed with each other about that for a bit. Then Matthew pulled his dad over, "Do you know what made her cry?? When Neville killed Negini! Can you believe that?" And his pa said, "Well, yes, Matthew. She's a girl." "What's that got to do with anything?" "Well, son, girls are different from boys. Get used to it. That's the way it is."

So last Thursday at church, an envelope was handed to me. Cash from an anonymous donor. I headed out the door and took a walk and cried.

Why cry? That's just stupid. The gift was a good thing!
Girls are different from boys.

Today a friend got tapped to be a mediator for another anonymous gift. After the first phone call, I headed out to jog, and I cried (with a smile on my face).

How stupid. The present is a good thing!
Girls are different from boys.

As the day progressed and we tried to finagle some arrangements to make this surprise work out, I realized that it might not work out. But you know what? (It's so cool!) Even if the tangible physical benefits of the gift didn't come through, the knowledge that somebody(s) loved us enough, cared enough, to bother with this ... just the knowledge that they tried to pull this off was awesomely and unbelievably buoyant. It was encouraging. It meant so much ... even if it didn't pan out.

Then came the bad news from the county and the repairman. But minutes later came the good news from our local looper-mediator that the plans were all in place from the anonymous folks who desire to provide some comfort to my family. That helps so much!

Tomorrow night -- long hot showers! Here we come!

And I am the poster-child for "girls are different from boys."
Because sometimes girls cry when it makes no sense at all.

Tuesday, September 11, 2007

Psalm 103:13

As a father pities his children,
So the Lord pities those who fear Him.
For the Lord knows our frame;
He remembers that we are dust.

No matter how weary I may be of carrying water, no matter how tired I may be of walking 400' in the rain and/or the chill just to go brush my teeth or use the potty, it's still easier than thinking of my kids having to do the same thing.

It always seems easier to be sick yourself than it is to ache over your children's sicknesses.

I think Mom is not having an easy time knowing our current difficulties with water. Likewise, I keep thinking that this is easier than it will be, someday, when Katie and Nathan are going through the same thing we're going through now.

Oh, how we [Harry Potter readers] can understand Molly at the very end of book #7, going after Bellatrix!

So when David tells us that the Lord has compassion on His children, it's not just the compassion of loving them so much because, after all, they are His children and not somebody else's. But He has the compassion of one who would rather suffer Himself than see His people hurting.


For lots of good reading and ideas on homeschooling, the new week's collection of blog posts is listed at Why Homeschool. Enjoy!

Monday, September 10, 2007


Everybody left the house this morning. EVERYBODY! Paul went to work. Andrew went to a volunteer job working at the horse barn. Philip is on a two-week temp job and it's days this time. Gary had Winkel (circuit pastors' conference). Maggie and I headed out to do errands.

Six people. Four cars. Five different directions.

The rest of the world thinks this is par-for-the-course. Yikes. What are homes for anyway??

Sunday, September 09, 2007

Plumbing Update

Problems with the parsonage septic system were discussed today at church. As if the church wasn't having money problems enough, we are facing a repair bill equal to about 3-4 weeks of offerings. And that's if we're lucky and the whole system doesn't have to be replaced; the bill could be 3 months worth of offerings.

We've been using the kitchen and toilets and sinks at church as much as possible. Given the size of our family, the repairmen expected to have to pump out our non-operational septic tank twice a week. Over Labor Day weekend, we filled it to overfull in just four days; discovering that ugly surprise on Tuesday revealed the immensity of the problem. The tank was last pumped five days ago, and it's only half full. We're doing good on curtailing water usage!! Given what the repairmen said, it'll be another two weeks of trying not to let any water slip down any drains in the house. But we've decided to loosen the reins a bit and give the kids permission to go potty at home during the night instead of making them walk next door to church.

If the repairman finds the field in bad shape too, we'll need a whole new system. Then church will need to get bids. Furthermore, the rebuilding will take longer. I'm thinking it could be mid-October before I can enjoy simple pleasures such as washing up a dirty pot and letting the water just run down the drain.

Katie, when we come to visit, I'm going to get in your shower and drain the hot-water tank!

Practicing Lawlessness

Matthew 13:41 The Son of Man will send out His angels, and they will gather out of His kingdom all things that offend, and those who practice lawlessness, and will cast them into the furnace of fire.

Obviously, those who will have nothing to do with the law, those who live hedonistically, those who mock the importance of the law -- obviously they are "practicing lawlessness."

But isn't it also "lawless" to use the law in such a way that one thinks one is meriting God's favor? Wouldn't it be lawless to make a god out of obedience to the law?