Peace of Home

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It is exciting times at the Hall house.  This morning I watched as my three oldest sat around the table with their mom working on their school work.  #3 is starting kindergarten this year and is eager to work.  This morning he was working on writing out the alphabet.  He has most of the letters already but still needs a little work.  He's got some of the phonics down too and is so eager to be able to read and write.  The oldest two are working on their own areas as mom takes turns working with each one and then giving them work to do on their own.

One of my great joys is being home with my family.  Since I work out of my home, I get to see the action around here quite a bit.   I took Monday off and had the joy of watching my three oldest spend almost the whole day outside.  Other than their swingset and one cheap kite, they didn't play with one purchased toy all day.  They rearranged the swings on their swingset, then made lassos out of sticks and vine.  Then made kites out of paper and straws.  Then made bows and arrows out of sticks and elastics.  I had them come in and make their own lunch (pb&j) and then out they went to eat and continue to play.  All day they needed no media, no entertaining, and not even any correction as they got along and enjoyed their time together.

This is our home.  My children are far from angels.  They have times when they get on each others' (and our) nerves and times when they need some direction or correction, but generally they do great.  This doesn't happen by accident.  Sarah and I have worked hard on this aspect of our home.  We spend time with our kids, work hard on building our friendship with each one and helping them learn how to work well with others, including adults.  Discipline is more than just punishment, it is sitting down for talks and discussion about character issues in a non-charged atmosphere.  It is also about having basic peace at home.  Our kids do not see us fighting.  They see us utilizing loving and regular communication with each other and asking the same from them.  We have worked hard to be a home of peace, not just decibel peace, but relationship peace.  The security, serenity, and stability that provides is hard to underestimate in their lives.

Too many homes, I fear, have too much chaos and not enough peace.  Schedules that are out of control, kids that are in control instead of parents, parents that discipline harshly or inconsistently, parents too busy to really invest time in their children, reading to them and talking to them.  We then wonder why kids hit the teen years and are suddenly (so it seems) rebellious or out of control.

I'm thankful for my home and so enjoy spending time with my family.  We still have a lot to learn and are working on getting better at many things, but I am thankful for where we are today.

Blog Coma

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If you are someone who keeps up with the blog, you probably felt a little abandoned this summer as I was not longer someone who was keeping up with the blog.  :)  I have been working hard to be consistent with the blog but this summer got away from me.

We had the birth of our fourth child in June followed immediately by VBS followed immediately by summer camp.  During summer camp I was speaker two different weeks, performed two funerals and took part in a third.  Performed two different baptism services, preached, kept up with other camp and church duties and worked on trying to help Sarah with three kids and a new baby.  In other words, the blog didn't stand a chance!!

I probably could have gotten some entries written while I was on vacation but to tell you the truth, I left the computer in the bag all during vacation and just took a breather.

Now I'm home and feeling much refreshed!  I am excited for this fall I feel the old creative juices flowing!  Watch this space!  The blog is back and should return to normal operating.  I look forward to developing thought and ideas on here again and sharing with you all that is in my heart, my mind, and my home.  Should be a good fall.   It is good to find the blog awake and out of its coma!

Blind Ranger

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Blind Ranger

Earlier this year I posted on Accountability.  In the repost from another website, it mentioned two things that I got thinking about today when it comes to how we do things here at Bean's Corner.  We have a team approach to leadership.  As shepherds, myself, Nate, Mac, Cliff, and the other deacons (elders) are accountable to each other.  I think this is vital to how we operate as a church.  As was mentioned in the earlier post, accountability reveals your blind spots.  In the picture above we have the Lone Ranger and he looks rather blind.  It is easy for me to say that I am going to keep an eye on my blind spots.  Of course, if I could see them, they wouldn't be blind spots!   Too often pastors go all lone-ranger and try to hide their blind spots.  The problem with blind spots is that only other people can see them.  The more you think you are hiding, the more the blind spots are likely to show up because it is hard to hide that which you can't see.

Better to be transparent, accountable.  When I allow others to talk to me about my blind spots, about weaknesses that I may not readily see  because either I'm not aware of them or I have allowed myself to become blinded, I allow myself to be strengthened by faithful friends who can tell me what I need to hear.  It probably won't be what I want to hear, unless I want honesty.

When it comes to people who want to be leaders, the very first requisite should be accountability.  If you are a lone ranger, you are also going to be a blind ranger and the Bible says that if the blind lead the blind, they both end up in the ditch.  We should also be careful who we chose to follow as leaders.  Those who are more interested in being in charge than in being accountable, in open, accountable relationships, should not be followed or placed in authority.  After all, I'm not going to ask a blind man to drive!

I'm thankful for the team here at Bean's Corner.  Its a great group of  people and we work to keep each other growing and dealing with our blind spots.

Family Squared

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This is a special time for our family.  We are excited as we wait with great expectation for the arrival of #4.  The kids are excited, we are excited.  #1 keeps giving mom suggestions on when to have the baby.  (Tomorrow is today's suggestion.)  Sarah and I have been utilizing this time to prepare the kids for the arrival of the baby in two ways.  One, we are making sure we pour extra love and attention on them as we find ourselves busy with preparations.  Two, we are talking to them about what changes will come, what things will be like, and how they can contribute to our latest family task.  Taken together, these two  approaches will help the kids feel good about the new baby and feel attached to the baby rather than replaced or pushed aside by him/her.  This time and effort has also resulted in marvelous bonding times for us as a family and made me thankful again for the family God has blessed me with.   Sarah and I find ourselves delighting in our kids each day and talking to each other about how much we enjoy each one.  #3 is in a period of special bloom as he approaches his fifth birthday.  He is eager to read and write and is one busy guy.

Yesterday we all went out to the trails behind the hospital and walked through the woods for about an hour.  It was a fun time with just us as a family.  Last night we sat at supper together and talked and I read to the family.  These are precious times and not to be missed.  The experiences we are having right now are what family is all about and a foundation for my children as they grow up.

There is another bonding experience that takes place each week.  That is the bond we share with our immediate extended family that meets across the street from our house each week; our church family.  This family looms almost as large in my kids lives as our home family does.  They have dear family members that they are eager to see each week and who play vital roles in their lives.  The same goes for Sarah and I.  We have people dear to us that are essential to our lives.  They truly are our family.

I believe this is why the Bible draws such a firm connection between family and the church, especially for pastors.  The skills I use to nurture my family are exactly the same skills that are needed to properly and effectively serve at church.  I spoke with a friend the other day who has a pastor who does not have a close nurting relationship with his childrena and struggles with nurturing people at church.  I expressed a total lack of surprise.  Paul made it clear that the two are inseperable.  If a man can't nurture at home, he won't magicaly develop those skills in the church family.

I am thankful for my family, both the smaller one that sleeps in this house, and the larger one that comes together across the street.  I am thankful that my kids are growing up with both families to draw strength and support from.  I am thankful that I have people who pour Christ into my life and into the life of my loved ones each week and help us as we grow closer to Christ.  I look forward to #4's arrival and watching him/her be welcomed not only by his/her siblings in this house, but by his/her brothers and sisters in Christ.

Living in Babylon

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Then the king placed Daniel in a high position and lavished many gifts on him. He made him ruler over the entire province of Babylon and placed him in charge of all its wise men. Moreover, at Daniel's request the king appointed Shadrach, Meshach and Abednego administrators over the province of Babylon, while Daniel himself remained at the royal court. (Daniel 2:48-49)
And they admitted that they were aliens and strangers on earth. People who say such things show that they are looking for a country of their own. (Hebrews 11:13b-14)

I'm not first and foremost an American.  Don't get me wrong, I really like America, I feel very blessed to have been born and raised in this country and I am loyal to it.  However, my country is not here.  My first allegiance, and my love, belongs to the Kingdom of God.  It is the homeland of my family.  I was adopted into this family because of the work of my brother, Jesus Christ.  That allegiance should affect every aspect of my life, including and especially how I relate to government.

Daniel is instructive in this instance. Let's look at his circumstances and then his actions.  First, Daniel was a slave/captive.  You could call him a political prisoner if you wanted.  His country had been conquered and he had been taken to the capital of the enemy which now exerted control over him.  Point to emphasize; Daniel was not a voluntary Babylonian nor was he in governmental service by choice.  It had been forced upon him as part of his captivity.   Second, Babylon was a pagan country.   Let me repeat that one.  A pagan country.  It was not a country built on Biblical principles that had faded some.  It sometimes allowed some freedom of religion but also encouraged worship of the leader (Dan. 6:7-9).  We can confidently say that Babylon was not a "Christian" nation.   Daniel later served under Darius.  Same conditions applied.  Now, as to what Daniel did.  First, he stayed true to God.  (Dan 1:8, 6:10).  Secondly, he gave credit to God at every opportunity.  Thirdly, he served his pagan masters as loyally and excellently as he could while being faithful to God (Dan. 6:3 etc.).

What can we draw from this?  First, I think we need to make sure that we don't get so caught up in America as our country that we forget that our first allegiance is to Christ.  Having said that, I think that our duty is to be loyal and supportive of our government as much as we can while being faithful to God.  Too many Christians seem to act as if the very pagan aspects of the leadership of this country is some sort of personal affront.  Romney's mormonism or Obama's liberalism can't be much different than what Daniel faced.  As a resident of America, I will use my voice and my vote to honor God and I will gladly and joyfully share the joy of the values that God has instilled in me.  I will not expect America to be a Christian country.  Where do we get that idea?  Certainly NOT from the Bible.  Jesus said, "My kingdom is not of this world."   The minute we begin to conflate and confuse America with the Body of Christ, we are in trouble and will cause a lot of confusion.  The message of the Gospel will be lost in a message of social reform.   We should vote our values, serve our values and live our values, but we must remember that we are living in Babylon and we are not Babylonians.

There are many implications to these thoughts and I don't have the space to go into all of them now, but I challenge my Christian brothers to keep in mind that we are aliens and strangers in this land and we are here, by order of Jesus Christ, to make disciples in every nation.

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