Archive for May, 2009

Mommy, Teach Me!

mommyteachme

My friend Addie, an amazingly committed and talented mommy, recommended this book as a resource to use for teaching pre-school aged children at home and instilling in them a love of learning. I just got my copy of the book a week or so ago, and I love it and wanted to recommend it to you too!

It could be especially helpful to many missionary moms who might not have access to a local pre-school, as it is all about how to teach pre-school skills to your own children. It has a very fun, hands on, creative approach and encourages mothers to recognize the many learning opportunities all around us in daily life. It has a ton of creative activity ideas and lists of the materials that would be helpful and fun for all sorts of activities. It lists the activities by the type of concepts that they teach and gives very clear instructions as well as some pictures.

If you have a pre-school aged child, even if he/she does already go to pre-school, I highly recommend this book as a guide to some very fun and high quality learning!

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Biblical and Cultural Community: Part 3

continent game

The last posts on community has to do with evaluating our host cultures in light of our own worldviews, in order to hopefully encourage us towards a more Biblical and culturally relevant view and experience in community.

Here are some practical questions to think about as we try to evaluate this aspect of life and strive to become Biblical Christians who are cultural insiders:

In my host culture, what does it look like to be a part of the community? What are the expectations or normal practices of each member of the community? How am I doing at fitting in? Are there things as a believer that I should stand up for or against?

How does the body of Christ function in my culture? Is this what I am used to? If it is difficult for me, why is that?

What values are held most highly within the community? Time spent? Sharing meals? Respecting one another’s schedule? Helping one another?…. How can I bless people by knowing these values?

On the scale of breadth and depth with regards to relationships, what relationship values does my culture have? Do people have many friends continually coming in and out of their lives, or do people generally just have a few very close friends? How should I approach friendships taking into account both what the Bible teaches and how the culture functions?

What does it mean to be a friend in this culture? Does the word “friend” mean the same thing in this culture as it does to me? What do my friends and the people that I minister to need from me to feel loved and cared for?

If the community in my culture is very different than my understanding of community, what things must I do in order to become a more integrated part of the community? How should I organize my life and time in light of these differences? What values (as long as they are Biblical) do I know of that I can as God to help me grow in to become more of an insider?

What barriers are there that might make it difficult for me to become an insider? How should I be praying about this? What can I do?

In what ways does community in my culture look like community in the Bible? How can I personally, or how can my ministry encourage believers even more towards Biblical community?

I hope those might be helpful to you in some way! I am very much thinking through these things right now as our family prepares to move to a new city in Russia and as we hope to structure our lives from the beginning in a way that would allow us to be the best witness in our community as possible.

As always, I love it when you share your advice and personal experiences, so please feel invited to share any thoughts or other questions that would be helpful for us to think through!

Biblical and Cultural Community: Part 2

flower 1

Springing from yesterday’s post, here are a few starting passages in scripture that emphasize the importance of community and some characteristics of Biblical community. Of course none of our communities are 100% Christian, but these are some of the Biblical ideals that are set forth for the church, and most are things that we as believers can and should extend to others in our community regardless of whether they are believers or not.

Acts 2:42-48: This is of course the classic passage used to illustrate a close knit Christian community. Given the significance of the time in which this example of community took place, it seems a good piece of evidence showing that close community that focused on Christ and loving one another desirable to God. This is a picture of the body of Christ when the Holy Spirit had freshly fallen on the believers and when all were powerfully filled and compelled to live according to the Spirit. Lukewarmness hadn’t yet set in as all had so recently witnessed great miracles from God and experienced Him in power. I don’t think it is probable that we could live exactly like this today (and some may argue with me about this) for a number of reasons, including the number of lukewarm Christians, sheer number of believers in the body, and if we speak about local community, of course we factor in that many community members are not following Christ and the word etc, but it does seem to have been very pleasing to God that the community of believers were in such close community with one another, looking together to Him and serving one another sacrificially.

1 Corinthians 12:12-31: In this section of scripture, Paul talks about the body as one body and many parts. This illustration in and of itself suggests the integrated nature of each member of the body. Each one serves a function and makes up the whole. It suggests that autonomy is not a virtuous method of functioning, but rather depicts an image of the body that involves serving each other and humble dependence upon one another.

1 John 3:16-18: This passage talks about loving our brothers by laying down our lives for them and loving them by seeing their needs and meeting them. How can we do that if we are not around our brothers and sisters enough and don’t know them well enough to understand their needs?

Matthew 5:43-48: Loving our enemies even comes into play with regards to community. Many aspects of our cultures and human nature would say to cut ties with anyone who would be considered an enemy, but the Bible seems to say that the ideal would be to work to bring that person back into community through Christ-like love.

Ephesians 3:6: As we can see by the fact that God’s plan has always been to include the Gentiles in His kingdom, we see that the body of Christ is multi-cultural and should be expanding across seemingly natural boundaries. The believers back in that day definitely had much to wrestle through as they learned how to love cross-culturally and accept those whom they had previously segregated themselves from, but Christ came to unify and bring His people first to himself but also together with one another in the body of Christ.

Hebrews 3:12-14 This is a great passage showing our responsibility as believers to regularly encourage one another away from sin and towards godliness, which again is something that requires relationship and community in order to actually take place.

I know this is in no way comprehensive, but they are just some of the passages that stood out to me this past week. Do you have any passages from scripture that have taught or encouraged you about Biblical community? Have you seen any of these things in practice in your community (either church body or local community)? Do you have any other thoughts that you would like to share about living in community?

Next: Part 3 will focus on some questions that we can ask ourselves to help come to a clearer understanding of the communities in which we live, how our worldview affects how we function in our community, and hopefully will be helpful in encouraging us towards living in and working towards a more Biblical view and practice of community.

Biblical and Cultural Community: Part 1

The Luncheon of the Boating Party, c.1881 by Pierre-Auguste Renoir
I was on a trip last week with some amazing friends who are faithful missionaries to the city of Seattle, and we enjoyed a number of conversations on the topic of Biblical community. As you likely well know, this is a hot topic in Christianity today as many of our communities seem to have strayed far from the Biblical ideal and many people are working and praying towards change in this area. The Bible talks about having deep relationships where we share in one another’s struggles, serve, help and support each other, enjoy spending time together over meals, encourage one another in godliness, and so much more.

Having heard a spectrum of ideas on this topic and how they relate in American culture, a culture where community and a heart of serving one another is often lacking in the average neighborhood or area,  I got to thinking about the differences in community and relationships in the various cultures in which we serve. In some cultures, like my beloved home culture of Seattle, community suffers as people are highly independent and often isolated as a result. In other cultures we often struggle personally because the culture is so open and lives so intertwined that it can be difficult for our American mindsets to adapt.

One friend on this recent trip of mine was sharing about her friend living in an African culture and how for her family community there was almost instant. Very soon after moving into town there,  she and her family were brought wholly into the fold of the community.  The people in this place live life in a very open community, serving one another and being a part of one another’s daily life. It is generally assumed that her door revolves as freely as anyone else’s on her street.  People coming in and out, stopping by without notice, meals constantly being prepared and enjoyed by spontaneous guests… This to me sounds wonderful and amazing, but at the same time exhausting to my American mindset of  dinners scheduled weeks in advance and pre-planned coffee dates with friends.

My experience with Russian culture, though different than the story above, still is a contrast to the Seattle culture that I grew up in. In Seattle I found that making friends was quite easy with a bit of initiative, though often only to a certain extent. Depth takes time, and coming to the point where you would do almost anything to help a friend and open up and share the depths of your soul takes even longer.  In Russia though, I have heard from various sources,  people generally have a small handful of deep friendships during any given time in life and don’t eagerly seek to expand that circle to the dozens that we as Americans enjoy including among our group. Though many people have fewer friends, they have deeper friendships in which they regularly serve and sacrifice greatly for one another. Being accepted into the group of friends in our ministry was an amazing blessing and a learning experience too. Friends go so far out of their way to help and serve one another, regardless of the inconvenience. It is beautiful to see and experience and has taught me so much about how to love deeply and practically through truly serving and daily laying down one’s life (or personal priorities and plans) for a friend. I hope I keep growing in this! I see the image of God reflected so much in this aspect of Russian relationships.

There are so many reasons for these differences, such as different cultural views and values on things such as time, relationships, and autonomy. I don’t know about you, but sometimes distinguishing the difference between what is Biblical and what is comfortable for me personally can be difficult.

If you have a few minutes, it would be great to hear what community looks like where you live. Some questions for thought would be: What do you love? What is hard for you? What aspects of Biblical community do you see? In what ways are you hoping for or working towards change?

Next: What is Biblical community? Post # 2 will be up tomorrow (there was too much to post in one day) and will include some Biblical characteristics of healthy community. I would LOVE for you to share your own wisdom and thoughts about this too!


(Art courtesy of allposters.com. Renoir: The Luncheon of the Boating Party)

Free books!

rbmw

I posted a link to this site a week or two ago, but on the “Council on Biblical Manhood and Womanhood” site, there is a resource section where you can find a list of 15 or so free books. Who doesn’t like free stuff?!

These books will likely reflect the “complimentarian” veiw with regards to these topics, which basically means that God created man and woman to be equal in His sight yet that they have been blessed with different roles. A couple of the books are “Recovering Biblical Manhood and Womanhood” edited by John Piper and Wayne Grudem and “Biblical Womanhood in the Home,” edited by Nancy Leigh DeMoss. I hope these resources might be of interest to some of you!

I look forward to Monday and starting a discussion with you all on Biblical and cultural community! I tried to limit myself to one post, but it is looking more like three. Have a wonderful weekend!

Outdoor Activities for Kids

girls on swing
Summer is almost here in the northern hemisphere! Well, in reality where I am it is pouring down rain and less than 50 degrees, but here’s to hoping. I’ve had some fun researching and brainstorming outdoor kids games for the summer and thought I’d share some ideas for getting the kids some extra fresh air and exercise. Also, as usual, there are some links to sites with an abundance of ideas…..

First you have the classics that many of us grew up with:  bubbles (make your own giant wand with an hanger wrapped loosely with yarn), water balloon fights, tag, red-rover, kick ball, sidewalk chalk, hop scotch, lemonade stands (or whatever refreshing drink might be culturally relevant), berry picking, kick the can, flashlight tag, bike riding, etc.

I did some online searching for some fun new ideas and here are a few favorite articles from today’s “research:”

9 Outdoor Games and 7 Backyard Games – from Kaboose.com

Indoor and Outdoor Games- from Disney’s FamilyFun.com

Games Around the World- A little known site, but what a cool idea!

Here are few specific activities from those articles that I thought sounded fun:

Bet on bug races This is one from Kaboose.com. See how many critters the kids can spot—without actually picking them up–in the backyard for a short time period, such as five minutes, says Penny Warner, author of Kids Outdoor Parties (Meadowbrook Press). “Add up how many bugs they see and give them a sketch pad to sketch as many as they can. Then have them share their artwork.”

Create an outdoor canvas-This also is from Kaboose.com. Hang an old sheet on a clothesline or tape paper to a fence for your budding artist to paint on. Encourage them to try painting with different kinds of brushes, says Warner. “Try dipping grass into paint and swishing it on paper, then try painting with a leaf or a twig. The kids can also try painting rocks and creating little people or bugs with them.

Fox and Rabbit Game- This came from Disney’s Familyfun.com:
1. Get everyone into a circle, with players about an arm’s length away from one another. Because this game relies on one player hearing another’s movements, it is best played on grass, and everyone should keep very quiet during each round. Pick one player to be the fox and another to be the rabbit. Bring them both to the center of the circle and blindfold them. If young children do not wish to be blindfolded, they can just close their eyes.

2. Explain that the fox is hunting at night and is listening for his prey, the rabbit. The rabbit, naturally, is trying to avoid the fox. The other players are trees that will guide the rabbit or fox gently back into the circle when either wanders off the playing area. Turn the rabbit and fox around several times to slightly disorient them, then let the hunt begin. Allow a little time for this game–every player will want a turn at being the fox and

Banyoka From Games From Around The World, this game from Zambia involves linking arms to make a snake, racing, and an obstacle course. Could it get more fun than that?

Also, this isn’t from one of the articles, but why not make a Homemade Slip n’ Slide- Lay? Just lay down a large plastic tarp (or cut it in half and duct tape it together to make it longer), put a running hose at the top end, and perhaps give it a bit of extra slip with some liquid soap, and you’re ready for LOTS of fun! Granted, tarps, hoses, and grass might not be easy to come by in all places.

As I had fun looking up ideas for outdoor fun, I came across lots of fun new indoor activities too. Those of you in the southern hemisphere, don’t feel left out quite yet! I’ll post more indoor stuff too. Like I said, it’s 50 and rainy here… we also are not quite ready to bust out the Slip n’ Slide yet!


What fun outdoor activites do you enjoy or hope to enjoy with your kids? Please share!

Speaking of motherhood and theology…

bwareyoung

I was just found a really interesting blog post on the  “Council on Biblical Manhood and Womanhood” page (a long and studious name for a very interesting and applicable resource). It is a Q&A with author Bruce Ware on his new book titled “Big Truths for Young Hearts.” It sounds like a great book written by an author with a wonderful heart for children to grow up with good theology. I look forward to reading this book soon! I thought you might enjoy hearing about it as well!


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