Some of you might have noticed I’ve made myself scarce for a month. I hadn’t set a time. There was no plan. The impetus was a long back and forth with Dalrock and Empath on the general goodness of Voddie Baucham; his separate-ness from other preachers we’ve heard of before only to be thoroughly disappointed later. I got through, and I felt I had finally and really completed something (however minor it might be) and whether they consider it a thing completed (or even a thing) or not. That’s not disparagement of my good friends’ views, but I’m simply talking about my own. I felt empty in a fulfilled way; mentally poured-out.
It was a curious experience: Normally I’d have been even more inflamed to write. That last time I felt not only no desire to write, but little to read further, either. And I did less and less until a few days after I read nothing at all, and still haven’t with the exception of one post each from the two previously mentioned friends, and those only in the last week. I’ll come back to this towards the end.
There have also been some distractions in the physical world. My father-in-law has spent half of this past month in hospital for some serious causes. There is the diabetes and partial blockages and a foot wound all of which culminated in a heart attack after a nearly-fortnight stay. He’s still in a hospital and seems very old. And old is the third shuffle in this very short four-step dance on Earth.
My oldest is preparing for college this fall in the most lackadaisical manner I can imagine short of what I actually did. Strike that: What I actually did not do myself. I knew I didn’t really want to go to college though. So, when it became apparent that I wouldn’t get my not-wish, my disappointment was very small. Tina will be thoroughly dejected that life is not like public school after all. There is no one to come make you do the things you have to do to pass. No one comes to get you to make sure you are where you are supposed to be when you are supposed to be there…least of all her father.
In general I have some scorn for college. Secondly, Obamacare legislation has scared my employers from using part-time and contract labor as frequently. Too frequently, and they become responsible for providing healthcare coverage no matter that I do not require it. As a consequence, I’ve been requested less than normal to make sure they do not cross that line. Under these circumstances, my desire to hand over fistfuls of cash towards an endeavor (towards which my daughter seems less-than-utterly enthused) wanes.
Thirdly, she is a brat; as our educators, media, and her peers designed for her to be. Her mother and I abandoned her to this (under the guise of compulsory public education) because we did not believe we could homeschool, and because we could not afford traditional private education. Very soon, I suspect this will all be her problem, and not mine. She is free to take her own lead, but she is not free to do so under my roof. I believe she will test me on this point. And sometimes people ruin themselves–particularly those who never look to their own deceitful hearts as the chief cause of ruination. But I make no predictions; only preparations. Still, it seems imprudent to invest so much of the family’s resources in a single ingrate with there are so many of us at the trough. I lean towards obliteration of the college plans, but need more prayer on the issue.
Weaved among these trials has been new church commitments. Less than a week after the discussions linked at the beginning of this post, some folks at my church invited people to a bible study on the Book of St. Mark, and I made the momentous decision to attend.
A little background is in order.
I have attended two Sunday School classes at our church. The first not long after we joined. I went one time, and at the end of it when the leader asked what I thought I said, “That is the worst Sunday School lesson I ever heard.” We had been given a hand-out, upon which I had scribbled notes of objection so frequently that I could barely keep up with each false teaching. To the gobsmacked faces I read aloud each one, and it’s accompany scripture. Afterwards, I turned in my notes to the priests, and advised them to look into what is being taught in Sunday School. The class was cancelled immediately.
The second class was lead by a junior priest. It was not anti-Christian, but the poor man is just not quite up to snuff. I do not know whether he is confused about what he believes, or just does not possess the means to communicate it. For the two sessions attended I wore out my lips with pursing and my neck with wagging. It felt as if every five minutes I was saying, “Wouldn’t it be better said…” Invariably he would give assent, and the others nodded their heads in agreement. One man said afterwards that he really appreciated my comments, and he thought I should think about being a priest. I promptly dropped the class as I do not want to upstage those in real authority.
After considering the invitation for a couple days, I responded to the email that I would attend the Monday morning biblestudy, and Mrs. Caldo would be with me. It was sent to the email address of a man at my church. Shortly thereafter I found out that he and his wife share the account, and that she and another woman would be leading the study. Huh. Ok, then.
There are consistently about 25 of us meeting for biblestudy and of that number only one other is a man. It has been an extraordinary experience. I’ve had to stretch myself quite a bit to give rebuke with gentleness and yet retaining force. As you would expect there was a lot of talk in the first session about “the spiritual importance of feelings”, but by the end of the second session that had completely disappeared. More specifically, as the ladies tried to turn Jesus into a nice guy I redirected them back to what the Scripture actually said. As an example: They were sure that after Jesus sent His mother and brothers away, that He went outside to console them, and tell them He didn’t mean what He’d said. Such flippancy did not withstand scrutiny of the character of Jesus. There was also the incident when Jesus calls a Gentile woman a dog, and they were sure He wasn’t actually comparing her to a dog at all. Yes, He was.
Among the women is the lady whose class I collapsed on her poor head. I bring her up because while that incident happened, whenever somebody says something from the Book of Oprah, she looks at me; beckoning me to respond. Mrs. Caldo noticed it right off the bat.
I am sorry to report that the other man in the class is not well-received. He intends to sound authoritative but it comes out snide, and his craving for respect is louder than whatever he is actually saying. Of course, he gets none from anyone, and whatever he says is ignored as if he had broke wind. That is: for his own benefit, that he would not be embarrassed. However; I never rebuke him because he is much older. Even though everyone sits in the same place each week, after that first week he moved over next to me.
There was also the Saturday morning men’s breakfast I attended; at which they asked me to tell my “witness”–my life story, including how I got to be a Christian and a member of our church. In contrast to the biblestudy, there were only eight of us in attendance at the breakfast, and I was only one under 55. During the course of my witness I explained that I started my current job at 22, and that it is my 24th job. That is a shocking thing to men of that age, and they were visibly dismayed. One man blurted out, “Some commitment issues!”
I responded with a guffaw and said, “Well, on the other hand I’ve been married for almost 19 years now.”
“So you can take direction from some people.”, one of them said, and the rest chuckled.
Looking squarely at him I shook my head saying, “That’s not how I run my household.” They didn’t laugh anymore and I thought that was sad because that showed they really weren’t joking.
To bring this full-circle: What I did not engage in with my discussion with Dalrock–what was different about that exchange–was useless bickering. That is why I was satisfied. A couple days ago I was sent this in an email daily devotional I get, and it explains precisely upon what I have been put to work. 2 Timothy 14
14 Remind them of these things, and charge them before God not to quarrel about words, which does no good, but only ruins the hearers. 15 Do your best to present yourself to God as one approved, a worker who has no need to be ashamed, rightly handling the word of truth. 16 But avoid irreverent babble, for it will lead people into more and more ungodliness, 17 and their talk will spread like gangrene. Among them are Hymenaeus and Philetus, 18 who have swerved from the truth, saying that the resurrection has already happened. They are upsetting the faith of some. 19 But God’s firm foundation stands, bearing this seal: “The Lord knows those who are his,” and, “Let everyone who names the name of the Lord depart from iniquity.”
20 Now in a great house there are not only vessels of gold and silver but also of wood and clay, some for honorable use, some for dishonorable. 21 Therefore, if anyone cleanses himself from what is dishonorable, he will be a vessel for honorable use, set apart as holy, useful to the master of the house, ready for every good work.
22 So flee youthful passions and pursue righteousness, faith, love, and peace, along with those who call on the Lord from a pure heart. 23 Have nothing to do with foolish, ignorant controversies; you know that they breed quarrels. 24 And the Lord’s servant must not be quarrelsome but kind to everyone, able to teach, patiently enduring evil, 25 correcting his opponents with gentleness. God may perhaps grant them repentance leading to a knowledge of the truth, 26 and they may come to their senses and escape from the snare of the devil, after being captured by him to do his will.
This has been very encouraging to me. Not only in that it confirms how I should be communicating more gently, but that rebuke itself is not rough, and that it is even sometimes wholly necessary to name names, as St. Paul does of Hymenaeus and Philetus. Most of all, its warning to avoid even the irreverent babble of others if I wish to remain on the path of righteousness is what I most needed to hear, but could not over the din that I loved too much.
Though disappointment did exist because I had no clue what else to do except enlisted service in the military (which my once-enlisted father strongly discouraged as beneath me) or get a trade. That appealed to me as much as it does any other aspiring celebrity.