Friday, August 18, 2006

More Funny Stories with Charlie

Charlie is full of fun and entertainment, as only a 2 year old can be.

First of all, he has a stuffed "girl puppy" that he treats as his baby. He does everything Mommy does. He swings her in Chance's swing. He lifts up his shirt and pretends she's nursing. (In fact the other day, he covered her with a blanket like Mommy does Chance while feeding). Then, as we do when Charlie's throwing a fit and needs to calm down, he puts her in the bathroom until he says she stops crying. Then he holds her and rocks her to sleep.

He's also learning to share. The other day as I sat on the couch typing an email, he started pushing keys. I told him "Not now, Mommy's busy" to which he replied: "Mommy share with Charlie?" Whaddaya do when it gets turned back on you?! So young, yet so clever...

He's even learning to go to one parent over the other. He was playing in his room when he fell (probably jumped off his bed), and began crying. Chance had just been put to sleep in the next room, so Chuck told him "Shhh", meaning, keep your volume down, not stop crying. That hurt Charlie's feelings, so he came downstairs to me and tattled. As he sobbed, he said "Daddy tell Charlie 'Shh!'"

He's learning the difference between boys and girls. His favorite movie is responsible for that. He loves "The Little Rascals" and has started saying "Girls say (high pitched) 'Ahhhh!' and boys say (deeper pitched) 'Ahhh!'". Recently someone asked him if he liked girls, and to my delight, he said No. Child after my own heart...heheh.

He's developed impeccable manners. As I had taught him "Thank you, Please, and Yes Ma'am/Sir," he has sought to master it. There are times when he uses it without prompting and just makes my heart melt. As I had finished our bedtime routine one evening (read a book, pray, hug and kiss), he said to me "Thank you, Mommy." I told him "You're welcome." Then, for the first time ever without coercing, the moment I'd been waiting for: "I wub (love) you, Mommy." Thankfully he didn't realize he could've asked me for anything at that moment and I'd given in.

Of course, he's still a bit destructive. Recently I spent all day on a project on the computer, as I neared the finish line, he crawled under the desk and turned the power off on the power strip. I cried. About a month ago, while I was even in the room (just distracted by a phone call...which is why I don't talk on the phone anymore!), he took a writing pen to our couch....all over our couch! As I surveyed the damage, I groaned "Oh Buddy..." to which he replied "Charlie no name Buddy, (my) name (is) Charlie!". Another moment where I was near tears. Praise God for the Magic Eraser, although I haven't gotten it all out yet...

He's also turned rowdy, much more kidlike (or specifically more boylike). I used to worry about him at playgrounds, that he'd get run over by the bigger kids. Now I have to watch him just to make sure he doesn't mow some poor little kid over!

He's also more independent. He can pull his own clothes (and diaper!) off, and attempts to put his clothes/shoes on by himself. He can undo his own seat belt (once I give him permission, usually).

His days of defiantly saying "No!" have been replaced by what I think is his toddler version of rolling his eyes. If I ask him a question and he's mad at me, he won't answer and instead will look at me and blink many times, as if to say "Yeah right, I'm not giving you an answer." Fortunately, he's turned a corner and isn't as testing as he had been. The days when "No" were most often heard have been replaced with "Watch me, Mommy!"

And of course, he's still a great big brother, still exceeding my expectations. He always tries to calm baby brother, entertain him, and play with him. He rarely acts jealous. He even tries to pick him up, and sometimes wrestle him. We have the usual problems, such as him taking away toys Chance is playing with, but luckily Chance is too young to know any better.

And this parenting thing, as challenging as it is, is still worth every moment...because with Charlie there is never a dull moment!

Thursday, August 3, 2006

The greatest of these is LOVE

Ok, so, get ready to go deep. I've been thinking a lot about I Timothy 1:5 lately. I started studying I Timothy recently because I've read a couple of books that critique the church, and I Timothy seemed to be a good way to get a Biblical perspective.

But first, the background: There are a couple of "movements" so to speak, in the Church today that need to be acknowledged. There's the Church Growth movement, which creates seeker friendly churches that are relevant to society, using the latest technology in worship services, and downplaying hard preaching and talk of sin and hell in effort to reach people who need Christ but would reject our teaching if it's all "hell, fire and brimstone." They rely as much on worldly wisdom (psychology) as they do God's Word. Prime examples would be some mega churches, such as Willow Creek and Saddleback. The main purpose is to reach out to those who don't know Jesus, and show them what they're missing, and led them in...

The second is in reaction to the Church growth movement, where people just want to return to the roots of Christianity, feeling that the church is watering down the Truth, so forget evangelical protestantism, these people want to go back to Roman Catholicism and Eastern Orthodoxy. At least there, there aren't tons of divisions and the history is rich and the church is unchanging. This would be much safer than protestantism, right?

Both of these movements have points where they are right. Both have good things that are changes that would be good for the Church. They're almost polar opposites, though. So where should we stand?

I think both have a different opinion on God's Word. Church growth movement practically assimilates itself into our culture, making it hard to tell how God's Word makes them different. Studying God's Word isn't emphasized as much as it needs to be, and it produces a bunch of nondiscerning, baby Christians who don't desire the meat of God's Word. The second movement gives the Church leaders/traditions as much authority as God's Word.

What about studying God's Word for yourself? Sure, it's not easy. It takes time, research, and thought. (It's especially hard when you have small children!) And doesn't it just produce factions in the church? Just look at all the denominations of protestantism! Can we really get it right, when so many scholars disagree? Can it really produce unity among Christians, and can it really bring people to Christ without offending them? You probably already know where I'm going with this...Just before His arrest and crucifixion, Jesus prayed for His disciples. "Sanctify them by Your truth. Your Word is truth." (John 17:17) And what else did he pray for? Unity. Among His disciples, and among the ones to come (that'd be us). And as far as offending people, that just comes with the territory: "For the message of the cross is foolishness to those who are perishing, but to us who are being saved it is the power of God." (I Corinthians 1:18). Offending people, as much as we'd like to avoid it, comes with the territory.

So the truth is, we're sinners. There's no denying it, even if people don't want to hear it. God is just, and should we not accept His gift of salvation, Hell is the consequence. It's not His desire, He gets no joy out of it, but that's the truth. Does that give me the right to judge other sinners (such as homosexuals) for their sin? They are sometimes treated as unloved by God and beyond His mercy by Christians, which is grievous to me (sorry, tangent...). But the Good news isn't Good until you know the bad. We're all doomed apart from Christ. To deny that would be to misunderstand how great His sacrifice really was. Then the Good News: By coming as we are, and asking God to forgive us, and acknowledging that Jesus was His Son, who took our penalty on Himself on the cross, and then rose again to show His divinity, we receive salvation. We relinquish control of our lives and ask God to teach us how to be like Him, thru the study of His Word.

But what does all this have to do with I Timothy 1:5? "Now the purpose of the commandment is love from a pure heart, from a good conscience, and from sincere faith." Here is the end of the matter to me. If God's Word is being correctly applied to one's life, that person will be able to love unconditionally, with the same (agape) self -sacrificing love that Jesus showed. That's what distinguishes us from the world. That's what shows if the teaching is false or true. Does the church growth movement produce agape-lovers? Does the traditions of men produce agape-lovers? Do you want your church to grow? Preach the Word, and agape love people. Do you want the Truth to be preserved, without faction? Preach the Word and agape love people.

That's all I have to say about that. (LOL)