Friday, April 28, 2006


Raised in a Christian culture, I wasn't aware until the past few years how loaded my speech is with "Christianese"--that Christian-culture lingo that only Believers understand. We have our own dialect, the language of the Christian Ghetto, and we think everyone speaks this way, or at least that everyone should understand.

It's sort of like the words computer geeks use that make me scratch my head. I remember when words like download, software, and gigabyte puzzled, confused, and frustrated me, even put me off. Then when I married a computer guy, started using computers, and "got inside the culture" (albeit the very very edge--I'm still almost computer illiterate), it began to make sense. In order to "evangelize" me and help me understand computers so I'd want to use them, Billy didn't speak computerese, he put it in language I could understand.

That's how we have to think when we interact with non-Christians. We have to realize that sometimes the language that's familiar to us means nothing to them, and in order to reach them we have to move beyond Christian cliche and use terms that are fresh. I'm not suggesting that we compromise our message, which seems to be the greatest fear of those who oppose new approaches to sharing the gospel. I'm just saying that we should at least attempt to speak to people on the outside of our culture in words they can grasp.

That said, I usually don't recognize Christianese when I speak it. Much as I try to replace the tired old verbage with language that will connect with those unfamiliar with Christianity, I find those same traditional terms coming out of my mouth. It's so familiar that I don't realize how it sounds to those outside.

One of the most helpful things I've done to make baby steps in the right direction is to read behind authors who don't speak Christianese. Dallas Willard, Lauren Winner, and the controversial Brian Maclaren are a few that come to mind. (For the record, a lot of what Maclaren says confuses me and this isn't an endorsement of him--but his work is of great benefit when it comes to breaking out of Christian ghetto language. Dalllas Willard and Lauren Winner are two of my favorite authors of all time.)

But I still feel that I don't get an accurate perception of what my Christianese sounds like to others, or even at times which terms are Christianese and which are not.

What about you? Is there a dictionary of Christianese out there somewhere? Does anyone know where I could go to find out what terms I'm using that would puzzle a non-Christian? And how do I go about reforming my language so that it stays true to the gospel but is still understandable to those who have no religious background? Thoughts anyone?

Tuesday, April 25, 2006

A Three Year Old's Ideal Fast

This morning Elizabeth was asking Billy questions about fasting. He was explaining different kinds of fasting, including a Daniel fast where one eats only plant foods. Silas piped up, "What about just milk and cookies?"

Sunday, April 23, 2006

Children and Salvation

One reason I took a sabbatical is to focus on praying for my children, especially Elizabeth who has really been asking tough spiritual questions and has been so tenderhearted and emotional about Jesus lately. She keeps asking questions like, "What is faith?" and "What does loving God mean?" Finally after a lot of discussion she said that she wanted to pray and tell Jesus that she desired His forgiveness and that she wanted Him to be her boss (she's strongly resisted the idea of of handing over the reigns to someone besides herself until now). Since then there has been such a sweet change in her. She still battles the wrong habits established over her short life (don't we all), but the rage and rebellion are gone.

The concept of childhood conversion is something I struggle mentally with myself. With children raised in Christian homes, the line of when conversion actually occurs seems kind of blurred sometimes. In a sense they have always believed, but there comes a point when they want to make it their own, and that's where she was. Of course, she doesn't understand all of it, but that's something she'll grow in continually for the rest of her life. Billy and I don't want to be guilty of making salvation a pat formula and giving her false assurance because she "prayed to ask Jesus into her heart" (which is never mentioned in the Bible, by the way). Both of us prayed a sinner's prayer at young ages because that's what churchgoing kids from Christian families were supposed to do, but neither of us came to a place of real, personal faith until later. We didn't experience repentance, surrender, and authentic life change for years. And in the interim, we thought we were just fine, even though our lives said differently.

We hope, we pray for our children, that when they say they want to follow Jesus, that it will be authentic, not a decision they made because dad and mom wanted them to, or because their friends were doing it, or because they want fire insurance against hell. That's why we don't pressure them to make a decision or pray a prayer. That's the work of the Holy Spirit. Of course, we want to facilitate His work, we want to faithfully parent them, to love them with His love, and we want His work of salvation to be evident in our lives. One thing God impressed on my heart recently is that my children won't have much reason to desire Him if His glory is not evident in my life. It will only be so much ritual to them if they don't see the reality in me, the one who is always telling them about how wonderful it is to follow Jesus. And by glory, I don't mean forced cheerfulness or a pleasant disposition established by strength of will. I mean the "glow" that comes from having a living relationship with Christ. One of the greatest reassurances I have that Christianity is all it's said to be is seeing it in the lives of fellow Christ-followers. The victory and love and sweetness and light in their lives can't come from a mere religious exercise. And it's something that can't come from something that's not real. I see Jesus at work in the lives of these fellow apprentices of His, and it strengthens me. I want my children to be strengthened in the same way when they see Jesus in my life.

I grow in my faith daily, I'm blessed to have a husband who is sensitive to the work of the Holy Spirit in him. I look forward to seeing Jesus become more and more real in the lives of my children. Whether it's Sarah listening to me sing Jesus Loves Me, or Silas praying "God is great for Jesus A-MEN!" or Elizabeth asking about faith, I pray that I'm a consistent example and that they see Jesus in me. I trust that as we plant and water in this little portion of our mission field, we'll see God reap a beautiful harvest.

Wednesday, April 19, 2006


Billy and I love jello. Our kids love jello. It's one of those things we swore off except for a rare treat in our attempt to not eat things that make us sick and crazy.

This week I got a box of Knox gelatin, and on the back was a recipe for gelatin squares made with fruit juice. Now I know that diehard health food fanatics don't like gelatin either, but I say it's a lot better than jello. I tried the recipe and it was perfect. Shimmery, jiggly, beautifully transparent in the dessert cup. It was also fast and easy. So if you're trying to cut sugars, artifial sweeteners, and dyes out of your diet, buy a box of Knox and give it a try! My kids slurped it right down!

Tuesday, April 18, 2006

Sabbatical Report

Well, I'm back, and an internet sabbatical was a good thing. It didn't exactly go the way I thought it would. I thought I'd get a lot more done. Maybe being gone on a 4,000 mile round trip (driving) and being sick for 3 weeks after that had something to do with that. I envisioned spending tons of time reading to my kids and writing snail mail letters. I wrote only one letter, which is almost done but not yet mailed...Hi Valerie! I haven't forgotten!

We spent a few days with my Grandma in California whom I hadn't seen in eight years. I haven't been to her home in over twenty years...So this trip meant the world to me. She's my kids' only living great grandparent, and it was so special for them to get to meet and spend time with her.

I made progress on some of the things I've been working toward in my home, even in spite of being gone and sick. Now if I can just conquer the laundry monster...

I expected to be back with loads of inspiration, but so far I don't feel exeptionally inspired. However, I will be blogging regularly again, and I'm looking forward to it.

And I can't let all this time without being online go by without saying:

I *heart* the internet! The thing I missed most was keeping up with bloggers I know IRL or online. I wondered how everyone was doing daily. It's good to be back, but I'm glad I had some time to make sure my feet were firmly planted on the ground where God has me.

More later!

Monday, April 17, 2006