Heart to Heart

[Revised for the September North County meeting presentation that we just gave. Originally written for our newsletter and contained in our book There’s No Place Like Home.]


      I often hear, “I know God has called me to homeschool my children, but I’m not sure I can do it.” Do feelings of inadequacy loom before you, too, like the giants of Canaan?


Giants of Canaan


      In Numbers 13, the Lord told the men “to spy out the land of Canaan which I am going to give to the sons of Israel.” When they returned, they reported that the land “certainly does flow with milk and honey. Nevertheless, the people who live in the land are strong, and the cities are fortified and very large…. we are not able to go against the people, for they are too strong for us … the land devours its inhabitants; and all the people are men of great size.” Caleb, on the other hand, possessed a firm confidence in God, so to these untrusting men he said, “We should by all means go up and take possession of it, for we shall surely overcome it.” How did he know? Because, Caleb remembered God’s Word and had faith that His Almighty God was most capable of fulfilling any task that He had called His people to. Unfortunately, Satan always uses others to plant unbelief, and so the men continued, “We are not able to go up against the people for they are too strong for us … it is a land that devours its inhabitants; and all the men are of great size; we became like grasshoppers in our own sight, and so we were in their sight.” And in Chapter 14, “All the congregation lifted up their voices and cried and the people wept all night.” They didn’t look to God, “Be still and know that I am God” (Psalm 46:10), but instead wallowed in their fear after listening to men rather than to their mighty God.

      The most memorable dialogue in all of Anne of Green Gables, is when Anne asked Marilla, “Haven’t you ever been in the depth of despair?”, to which Marilla answered, “No! To despair is to turn your back on God.” Wow, what a powerful response! I wish that I could say that I have never despaired, but nonetheless I know in my heart that to despair is to turn my back on God. As my mother always asked me when I was wallowing in pity, “Are you being self-conscious or Christ conscious?

      So how can we keep from despairing when giants loom before our eyes? Well, as David tells us in Psalm 27:13,14, “I would have despaired unless I had believed that I would see the goodness of the Lord. Wait for the Lord; be strong and let your heart take courage: yes, wait for the Lord.”


So You Wanna Go Back to Egypt


      And “all the sons of Israel grumbled against Moses and Aaron and said, ‘Would that we had died in the land of Egypt or would that we had died in this wilderness.’”

      You know we can look at these people and say, “How could a people who just saw the Red Sea parted for them so that they could cross in safety and then see the same river return to its place to swallow up their enemies, have such contempt for their God? If I had witnessed these miracles in my life, I certainly would never have acted like these guys!” But you know what? God has performed countless marvelous miracles throughout each of our lives, and yet we whine and complain and despair about our circumstances just like they did.

      “Then God said to Moses, ‘How long will this people spurn Me? And how long will they not believe in Me, despite all the signs which I have performed in their midst?… Surely all the men who have seen My glory and My signs, which I performed in Egypt and in the wilderness, yet have put Me to the test and have not listened to My Voice shall by no means see the land which I swore to their fathers…. Your corpses shall fall in this wilderness all who have grumbled against Me.’”

       How long will we continue to spurn God? How long will we not believe in Him, despite all which He has performed in our midst? Let us heed this warning and remember that they wandered in the desert and died in the desert because of their unbelief (fear) and refusal to obey God and seize their inheritance. Unbelief not only destroys our confidence, but most significantly, mars our God’s honor, which is why it is so severely judged.


Walk By Faith Not By Sight


      “But My servant Caleb, because he has a different spirit and has followed Me fully, I will bring into the land which he entered, and his descendants shall take possession of it.” When we walk by faith and follow God completely, our children and our children’s children will possess the Promised Land God promises to us.

      Caleb had faith—the assurance of things hoped for, the conviction of things not seen. “By faith Noah being warned by God about things yet seen (it had never rained up until this point) in reverence prepared an ark for the salvation of his household … and became an heir of righteousness … By faith Abraham, when he was called, obeyed by going out to a place which he was to receive for an inheritance … for he was looking for the city whose architect and builder is God … they desire a better country that is a heavenly one … And without faith it is impossible to please Him, for he who comes to God must believe that He is, and that He is a rewarder of those who seek Him” (Hebrews 11). And God rewarded Caleb’s faith and obedience by allowing him and his descendants to take possession of his inheritance—the Promised Land.

      Caleb had “a different spirit” and “now we, (too), have received not the spirit of the world but the Spirit, who is from God, that we might know the thing freely given to us by God” (1 Corinthians 2:12). Because “I have been crucified with Christ and it is no longer I who live but Christ lives in me, and the life which I now live in the flesh, I live by faith in the son of God who loved me and delivered himself up for me” (Galatians 2:20). “We walk by faith not by sight” (2 Corinthians 5:17).

      If we walk by sight, seeing life’s circumstances through our flesh’s eyes, becoming self-conscious, we, like Peter, shall surely sink. “And Peter got out of the boat, and walked on the water and came toward Jesus. But seeing the wind, he became afraid, and beginning to sink, he cried out, saying, ‘Lord, save me!’ And immediately Jesus stretched out His hand and took hold of him and said to him, ‘O you of little faith, why did you doubt?’” (Matthew 14:29-31). “Walk by the Spirit and you will not carry out the desire of the flesh for the flesh sets its desire against the Spirit and the Spirit against the flesh” (Galatians 5:16, 17). “For our struggle is not against flesh and blood, but against the rulers, against the powers, against the world forces of this darkness, against spiritual forces of wickedness in the heavenly places. Therefore take up the full armor of God, that you may be able to resist in the evil day, and having done everything to stand firm. Stand firm therefore, having girded your loins with truth, and having put on the breastplate of righteousness, and having shod your feet with the preparation of the gospel of peace; … taking up the shield of faith with which you will be able to extinguish all the flaming missiles of the evil one. And take the helmet of salvation, and the sword of the Spirit, which is the word of God. With all prayers and petition pray at all times in the spirit, and with this in view, be on the alert with all perseverance and petition for all the saints” (Ephesians 6:12-18).

      Now after putting on the full armor of God …


Be Strong and Courageous and Possess Your Inheritance


      How? “This book of the law shall not depart from your mouth but you shall meditate on it day and night, so that you may be careful to do according to all that is written in it, for then you will make your way prosperous, and then you will have success. Have I not commanded you? Be strong and courageous! Do not tremble or be dismayed, for the Lord your God is with you wherever you go” (Joshua 1:8, 9). The book of Joshua focuses on possessing our inheritance. Joshua in Hebrew means “Jehovah delivers.” When we move forward to possess our inheritance, God will deliver—but we must move forward.

      In Joshua 3, we see that God did not part the Jordan until the priests’ feet actually went forward into the water. It is only after we act on faith that God will plant our feet firmly on dry ground in the middle of (all our impassable) Jordans (Joshua 3:17).

      God knows how quickly His people forget, so He often commanded His people to build visual reminders of His faithfulness in delivering His faithful ones. “Take up 12 stones from here out of the middle of the Jordan from the place where the priests’ feet are standing firm and set them up in the middle of the Jordan as a sign among you, so that when your children ask later saying, ‘What do these stones mean to you?’ then you shall say to them, ‘Because the waters of the Jordan were cut off before the ark of the covenant of the Lord; when it crossed the Jordan, the waters of the Jordan were cut off.’ So these stones shall become a memorial to the sons of Israel forever” (Joshua 4).

      Look back, stand in awe, and then tell your children, and retell your children, and record for your children how God has delivered your family. This shall be a sign among you to strengthen your faith and for your future descendants. “For we know that God causes all things to work together for good to those who love God to those who are called according to His purpose” (Romans 8:28). See how this sentence begins? “For we know that God…”

      When faced with enemies, do you know that God will give you victory because He parted the Red Sea and shut the mouths of the lions? Remember! When you face formidable walls of subjects that you feel you cannot teach or when your child does not seem to be getting something, do you know that you will have victory because God brought the walls of Jericho down? Remember! When you are wallowing in insecurity, do you know that God will give you victory because it is no longer I who live but Christ who lives within me? Remember!

      Have you ever thought of your unbelief and lack of obedience to God’s commands as being cowardly? Do you know what God says about those who are cowardly? “He who overcomes will inherit these things, and I will be his God and he will be My son. But for the cowardly and unbelieving and abominable and murderers and immoral persons and sorcerers and idolaters and all liars, their part will be in the lake that burns with fire and brimstone, which is the second death” (Revelation 21:7,8). When I first read this verse, I went back and read it again just to make sure I read it right. Cowards really do come before murderers and sorcerers and idolaters and liars. And so I started thinking about battles and how cowardly deserters are hung because of their disobedience and total abandonment of their sacred duty to man their post. And then I reflected on how easily a few fearful deserters can turn the whole battalion to flight. And I began to understand the seriousness of my unbelief in times of tribulation.

       As I read over the entire book of Revelation again, I also realized that “he who overcomes” is a recurring promise followed by various promises of inheritance. “He who overcomes” fear, trials, tribulation, persecution, unbelief … will ultimately inherit a crown of life.

      So can we doubt that our heavenly Father would call us to teach our own children when we rise up, when we walk by the way, and when we lie down, without providing us with the ability to do it? Yet we must realize that it stands to reason that with the best opportunity parents have for leaning about God and maturing in their faith and imparting this to their children that our enemy would do everything he could to discourage us and draw us away from God’s greatest plan for parents and their children.


Rebuilding the Wall


      When Nehemiah began rebuilding Jerusalem’s wall, he was mocked and despised and questioned, “What is this thing you are doing? Are you rebelling against the King?” (Nehemiah 2:19). Sound like, “What is this homeschooling? Is it legal?” Nehemiah replies with confidence in his God, “The God of heaven will give us success; therefore we His servants will arise and build” (Nehemiah 2:20). Again in Chapter 4, he receives more persecution, “When Sanballat heard that we were rebuilding the wall, he became furious and very angry and mocked the Jews … and said, ‘What are these feeble Jews doing? Are they going to restore it for themselves? … Can they finish in a day? Can they revive the stones from the dusty rubble?’” Satan uses well meaning friends, family, and church brothers to plant doubt—”What are you doing? You aren’t qualified? Aren’t you sheltering them? Can you really give them what they need to be successful in this life? Will they really be able to function in the real world?”

      Nehemiah knew the enemy’s tactics and how to strengthen his faith. “For all of them were trying to frighten us, thinking, ‘They will become discouraged with the work and it will not be done.’ But now O God, strengthen my hands” (Nehemiah 6:9). “For am I now seeking the favor of men or of God? Or am I striving to please men? If I were still trying to please men, I would not be a bond servant of Christ” (Galatians 1:10). “For the gospel which was preached by me is not according to man” (Galatians 1:11). “For the word of the cross is to those who are perishing foolishness, but to us who are being saved it is the power of God” (1 Corinthians 1:18). “Fools despise wisdom and instruction” (Proverbs 1:7).

      When the wall was rebuilt, Nehemiah placed a faithful man who feared God more than many in charge of Jerusalem and would not let the gates be opened until the sun was hot; and while they were standing guard they must shut and bolt the doors. He also appointed guards at each post and each in front of his own house (Nehemiah 7). If a pack of wolves were surrounding our tent, wouldn’t we stay up all night to protect our most valuable possession—our family? Therefore, we should “be of sober spirit, be on the alert because your adversary, the devil, prowls about like a roaring lion, seeking someone to devour” (1 Peter 5:8). “Guard what has been entrusted to you avoiding worldly and empty chatter and the opposing arguments of what is falsely called knowledge which some have professed and thus gone astray from the faith” (1 Timothy 6:20, 21). Listen to God. “Hear my son your father’s instruction and do not forsake your mother’s teaching” (Proverbs 1:8). “Train up a child in the way he should go” (Proverbs 22:6). “And these words which I am commanding you today shall be on your heart and you shall teach them when you sit in your house and when you walk by the way, when you lie down and when you rise up” (Deuteronomy 6:6, 7).

      Be vigilant to watch for any breach in the wall that could allow the enemy access to your most precious possessions. “On your walls, O Jerusalem, I have appointed watchmen; all day and all night they will never keep silent” (Isaiah 62:6). Are we sheltering our kids? Absolutely! It’s our responsibility to protect them from all evil until they build their own wall around their own home. There’s no such thing as being too protective. Hearts can easily be hardened little by little until one day it’s too late. And God commands us to “watch over our heart with all diligence for from it flows the springs of life” (Proverbs 4:23). Greater men that we have fallen—Adam walked with God; David was a man after God’s own heart; Solomon was blessed more abundantly than anyone else…. Always be on guard! None of us are safe from the enemy!


Drive Out the Sinful Inhabitants


      The book of Judges serves as an excellent example of what happens to God’s people when they neglect to drive out the wicked inhabitants from their land (Judges 1). These same sons of Israel who had personally been miraculously delivered by God “forsook the Lord … and followed other gods from among the gods of the peoples who were around them” (Judges 2:12). What inhabitants need to be driven out—ungodly television, videos, music, literature; ungodly friends; disrespect to parents, sarcasm, arguing, impatience, anger, selfishness…? “Finally brethren, whatever is true, whatever is honorable, whatever is right, whatever is pure, whatever is lovely, whatever is of good repute, if there is any excellence and if anything worthy of praise, let your mind dwell on these things” (Philippians 4:8).


By God’s Grace


      Weary? Fainthearted? Questioning your ability? Questioning your financial status? Don’t wander in that desert of unbelief any longer! Don’t go back into bondage! Be still and listen. Hear the echo from God’s first trumpet call? Remember the importance of His purpose? There is nothing more important or more rewarding than building up your family and preparing your descendants for God’s throne room. Remember how God brought you here? Look back and recall your journey up rugged mountains, down steep valleys, through swift rivers.

      By God’s grace, our lives should demonstrate “God’s Spirit and power that your faith should not rest on the wisdom of men, but on the power of God” (1 Corinthians 2:4, 5). By God’s grace, we are all here. By God’s grace, we can continue “for He which hath begun a good work in you will perfect it until the day of Christ Jesus” (Philippians 1:6). When we fully trust God and completely submit ourselves to Him, accepting each responsibility He calls us to, God equips us with the ability, and the power, and the strength to do His will. His love for you is great. His desire for you is perfect. His grace for you is sufficient. So little time left to fulfill His purpose…. So, “Take heed, brethren, lest there be in any of you an evil heart of unbelief, in departing from the living God; but exhort one another daily, while it is called today, lest any of you be hardened through the deceitfulness of sin. For we are made partakers of Christ, if we hold the beginning of our confidence steadfast unto the end” (Hebrews 3:12-14).