It has a been awhile since you have heard from us - the dating paper seemed to take the steam our of our writing stream for a time. Now we have more to share than there is space for! We have very much appreciated the letters we have received from you all.
We have just completed a large project which started with a simple idea to get new carpet (when holes starting showing up in the old). This required tearing up old carpet, some wallpaper removal and painting to prepare for the new carpet. It also required moving all of our books twice! Thankfully that is behind us except for getting everything back in its place. We picked an unusual color for us. When it was installed and we gazed over the living room, we then saw what color we had chosen - the color used in the Australian House of Representatives (which we recall as being the color gum tree leaves turn at some time - is it when it is going to rain?).
We have been asked about the Conservative Book Club. We have never subscribed because we have tried to avoid having to deal with books which come automatically without asking for them, so we can't be of much help with them.
Our family is learning the new experience of home schooling with a very active 18 month old (Nathanael) into everything . He has a very good eye for toys and shuns them in favor of "real" things. He is especially fond of pencils and pens. When Diane needs concentrated time with Joshua, Nathanael is sent off with our eldest son. This was a special challenge while we were painting because so much of the house was "off limits" to Nathanael.
Diane recommends books from Triangle Press, 23 5th Ave. SE Conrad, MT 59425, USA. They are mentioned on page 6 of the April/May Teaching Home . The books are children's stories originally published in the 1700s and 1800s. Our eldest son (who is 13 1/2 now!) has enjoyed reading them and Joshua enjoys having them read.
The following article on the "Laws of Experience" has been brewing for a long time. It was finally written after we discussed ways to try to address some principles important for home schooling parents.
This article describes four laws we call the laws of experience. These laws are straightforward statements about how we learn and pass on what we have learned to others. We hope that the statements of the laws will be obvious and logical to readers. The crucial part of this article will be the application of these simple laws to the process of parental discipleship of children in the Kingdom of God.
First, we will state the laws of experience and then discuss the practical applications of these simple laws to God-given parental responsibilities.
The laws of experience
We recommend that the reader quickly read all four laws before stopping to consider their meaning because the four laws interact with and help explain each other.
The Bible reminds us of the basic principle of training our children:
5. "Hear, O Israel! The Lord is our God, the Lord is one!
6. "And you shall love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your might.
7. "And these words, which I am commanding you today, shall be on your heart;
8. and you shall teach them diligently to your sons and shall talk of them when you sit in your house and when you walk by the way and when you lie down and when you rise up.
9. "And you shall bind them as a sign on your hand and they shall be as frontals on your forehead.
10. "And you shall write them on the doorposts of your house and on your gates.
This Scripture explains to us that we are to teach our children in our daily experiences (as we walk, when we lie down, when we rise up).
Applications of the laws
We cannot pass on our past experience to our children.
For example, if parents have in the past been in a church fellowship with active prayer accompanied by times of waiting on God as a church body, but are now in a formal, dry church situation, the children have never had the experience and consequent training which goes with that experience. The parents may make daily use of the training they received in that corporate experience of seeking God, but the children will know only the formal dry experience. Also, if parents are in a church fellowship where there are vibrant times of worship and prayer or attend special meetings where God speaks and where their experience in the Lord is deepened, but they always leave the children at home, then their children do not gain from that experience. Often children, even young children, learn to have a keen discernment for the annointing of God.
A more general statement of this example is that parents who have known times of great excitement in the Lord, of victories in prayer, of high times of fellowship and worship, cannot pass that experience to their children. The children were not there! Parents can talk about the experience which is important because God commands us to tell of His works! But the children were not there. Parents must maintain an attitude of seeking God and drawing near to the Lord Jesus Christ - only in this way do children gain the experience of the active Christian life.
Furthermore, parents need to include their children into their Christian lives. If parents are involved in active prayer, corporate worship and special times of seeking and knowing God's voice, but the children are always with a baby-sitter, with friends or just at home, then they do not gain the edification of the experience.
Another application which can be difficult for parents who want to shield their children from trials is that children cannot have the benefits of experiencing hard work and uphill struggles without experiencing them. Yes, we want to keep our children from experiences which will lead them to ungodly despair and are beyond their abilities to cope, but they must learn the victories of perseverance and hard work.
Our experience shapes our thinking and behavior
This law seems obvious on first reading. Nonetheless, its implications are far reaching. The things we choose as activities, recreation, reading material and friends make up our experience. These things do shape our thinking and behavior. For instance, even though we may believe that the popular press and media give us biased news coverage, if we choose to allow them to be a major part of our experience, then they will affect our thinking and behavior. Even strong Christians have had their entire witness compromised by this phenomena.
The effect which our experience has upon our thinking and behavior can be very subtle. As we constantly allow ourselves to see and hear about sexual immorality and a selfish lifestyle, it dulls our senses to God's absolute standards. This means that we soon compromise in ways we would not otherwise imagine. God sets a very high standard for our experience.
12. And do not participate in the unfruitful deeds of darkness, but instead even expose them;
13. for it is disgraceful even to speak of the things which are done by them in secret.
A shocking example of the compromise which comes with poor choices of what we include in our experience is the incredible tolerance many Christians have to blasphemy on TV and in movies. What, a generation ago would have been considered utter scandal, is now viewed regularly by professing Christians, not because they are forced to endure it, but because they choose to be "entertained" by it!
We cannot know the "feel" of what we have not experienced
A Biblical statement of this "law of experience" is that we are to "walk by faith, not by sight." Some applications of this law are obvious and within our daily practice. For example, we all recognize that even though we cannot know what it is like to be a drug addict without having been one, we readily accept the wisdom of avoiding drugs due to what we are taught by Scriptural principle and by what is clear in the lives of others. Some applications of this law of experience are more subtle. The purpose of this discussion is to encourage Christians to step out in faith and expand their experience into actions known to be Godly such as prayer, fasting, Bible reading and good works.
One of the most deadly traps for Christians is that we bring a lifetime of experience and patterns with us when we declare that Jesus is Lord and become Christians. Even a child who knows the Lordship of Christ from a young age needs to be taught how to expand his experience in Godly ways.
Specific applications of this "law of experience" are:
We can train ourselves and our children in many Godly disciplines by applying this "law of experience" and then carefully reflecting upon the results and seeing how God has moved in our lives in ways we could not have imagined until we lived through it.
Our total experience is limited - use it wisely
God gives us life on this earth. The Bible says that to each of us it is appointed to "die once", meaning our time on earth is limited. In particular, the number of hours our children have from the time they are born until they are grown and leave home is fixed. We cannot add to the available time! This means that literally every hour spent in useless or corrupt activity takes away from hours available for activities which lead our children to a closer walk with Jesus.
We want to take this discussion away from "churchy" activities and consider many common daily activities. One simple example is reading material. Some reading material is just plain bad - it encourages foul language, foul thoughts and immorality. More subtle is the reading material which is not immoral, but is also not fruitful. Such material would not be bad were it not for this "law of experience" which says the useless, while not in itself destructive, takes away time from the good. For example, we encourage the use of reading material with either important lessons or which teaches history or science as part of the story rather than reading material which is composed of nonsense stories.
We therefore encourage parents to train their children to avoid time wasting foolishness, concentration on fads and especially the temptation of our day to concentrate so much effort on entertainment. Many children who know the names of every TV star, the story of every TV show and names and stories about many stars know virtually nothing of history, cannot even name the books of the Bible , much less having read them and don't know even the basics of Christian doctrine.
If we allow our children to be trained in the world's foolishness (entertainment, sports, fads, toys, games, clothing styles) to the exclusion of the richness of the things of God (history, the Bible , doctrine, service, creation science, Christian political theory and government), then we rob our children of the greatest gift we can give them, intimacy with God through Jesus our Lord! Will we doom our children to an empty life devoid of the knowledge and power to change the world?
Our prayer is that this discussion on the "laws of experience" will encourage each parent in their quest to become effective disciplers as they train their children at home. We hope that the "laws of experience" will give each one a tool with which to organize thoughts and plans concerning creating a personal lifestyle which recognizes that while we are "in the world", we are not "of the world" and that we are to be prepared to be sent "into the world!"
Every experience our children undergo has a God designed goal built into
it. It is the responsibility of parents to help children bring their
experiences, frustrations, afflictions, persecutions, triumphs and joys to
them. In the daily course of life our children have enough experiences to
teach them thankfulness, perseverance, faithfulness, obedience, spiritual
warfare, servanthood etc. We parents must ask the Holy Spirit to open our eyes
and ears and those of our children so that every experience is brought before
God for His assessment. Only He can show us His perspective on each particular
conflict or success. It is more important for our children to experience Jesus
personally each day than to just learn lessons about Him. They need the
foundation of the written Word of God which reveals the historical Jesus,
must never be at the expense of crowding out the living Jesus, the living Word
who is the author and finisher of our faith. True discipleship teaches us to
deny ourselves, take up our cross and follow Jesus. To follow Jesus, we must
see Him and hear His voice. Parents must be an example in their own walk with
Jesus, but we must also help our children "experience Jesus"!